Men’s cross country finishes 15th National Championship

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The University of Mount Olive men’s cross country team finished 15th overall at the 2019 NCAA Division II National Championship hosted by the University of California - Sacramento.

The Trojans were one of 34 teams that qualified for nationals and sent seven runners to compete in the field of 267 runners.

Tai Smith led all Trojans with a time of 30:57.3 and finished 47th overall finishing seven spots outside of the All-American honors. He was followed by Jacob Gonzalez who crossed the line with a time of 31:04.8 claiming 57th. Smith’s highest place during the race was his finishing spot, while Gonzalez was as high as 50th at the 2.3K split.

Jacob Willis finished 119th with a 31:43.8 10k finish and was followed by Daniel Francken (153rd) and Jay Hall (173rd) with times of 32:02.6 and 32:19.4, respectively. Branson Oduor and Jett Hall rounded out the race for the Trojans taking 197th and 262nd, respectively. Oduor finished with a time of 32:39.5, while Hall ran a 36:05.8.

Smith, Gonzalez, Willis, Francken and Jay Hall all ran personal bests at the national meet.

“I am very proud of how the men’s team raced today,” said head coach Jackie Kirby. “Despite some adversity we faced this season, we executed our race plan to the best of our ability today. Almost all of our men ran a personal best, and I can’t ask for much more than that. Our team finish today is among the programs best team finishes at the national meet, and I feel we helped represent the Southeast Region extremely well.”

The Trojans season ends at nationals with the 15th place finish, the third-best finish in program history.

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