The Virginia Intermont College men’s cross country team members, ranked #2 nationally for most of the season, did what they do best. They won the NAIA National Cross Country Championships for the third year in a row. The Cobras handily beat runner-up Concordia Irvine 67 to 136 behind the individual title of David Cheromei. It was the first individual title for Intermont.
Held on a course in Louisville, Ky., Cheromei, who’s best finish was 18th in 2004, went out to win and took off with a pack of five that included pre-race favorite and 2005 runner-up Aaron Rono of Azusa Pacific. Teammates Daniel Kanyaruhuru and Andrew Fuller were well back out of the top 30 in the 255-man race, while Jesus Chavez, Elkana Chepsiror, Matt Neff and Martin Hernandez were buried in the middle. Cheromei opened up a 10-meter lead at the mile of the 4.98-mile course, while his teammates continued to move up through the mud.
After 3-miles, it was apparent that the Cobras were in the lead with Concordia close and chasing. Kanyaruhuru found himself in 15th with Fuller in 25th. Kanyaruhuru made a long push over the rolling last mile of the course and moved up onto the heels of Azusa’s Rono to take fourth, while Cheromei, up ahead, held on to take the title in 24:05, nine seconds ahead of runner-up Noah Too of Mid American Nazarene.
Fuller battled into 17th to secure the Cobra’s third All-American plaque, while Chavez finished 31st, missing All-American by one spot. Chepsiror (37th) was VIC’s 5th man, with Hernandez in 63rd and Neff close behind in 88th.
“I’m especially proud of this team,” said Intermont Coach Scott Simmons. “Their performance was more reflective of their character, their ability to overcome challenges and set backs by choosing a positive attitude and their faith in themselves and our philosophies. This season was already a success before the gun went off today, but the title was just rewards for their efforts.”
After the Cobras, the team battle was tight as Azusa Pacific (CA) notched its top finish in 3rd with 244 points, while Oklahoma Baptist repeated its 4th place with 253. The top ten included Aquinas (MI), 5th with 257; Westmont (CA), 6th with 269; Black Hills (SD) 7th with 272; Mid American (KS), 8th with 293; Cal State-San Marcos, 9th with 317; and Cedarville (OH) 10th with 323.
Simmons also earned his fifth consecutive National Coach of the Year trophy, with this being his fifth consecutive team title. Simmons won his first two titles at Minot State (ND) before moving to VIC.
On the women’s side, Intermont’s Renata Volf took home the Lady Cobra’s first All-American honors with a 28th-place finish in 18:39 for the 5k course.