For the second year in a row the Northern Kentucky University Men’s Cross-Country Team is heading to the NCAA Division II National Finals Nov. 17 in Joplin, Mo.
The Norse finished the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional in fourth place with 147 points.
Junior runner and team captain Zach Koehler has been one of the top runners all season for NKU and had a top performance Nov. 3 at the regional race. Koehler finished the 10-kilometer race with a time of 32:18 and placed 16th. His time was just 1.86 seconds short of making the All-Great Lakes Region Team.
Freshman runners Ryne Smith and Drew Harris have been bright spots for the team who returned all but two of its top performers from last season. Smith finished with a time 32:29 for 20th place and Harris finished in 30th with a time of 32:43.
Grand Valley State dominated the race finishing with 20 points overall, placing all seven runners in the top 15 in the race.
GVSU (20), Wayne State (90) and Southern Indiana (134) round out the other teams that will represent the Great Lakes Region in the finals.
On the women’s side, the team will not be competing in the race, but will cheer on a player of its own at nationals.
Senior runner Juilanne Hoekzema finished in fifth place out of 153 runners in the six-kilometer race, to advance to the National Finals.
Hoekzema became the first female runner to make the All-Great Lakes Region Team since Tracy Cardakson in 2004, according to the NKU Sports Information Web site.
Grand Valley State also dominated the women’s side of the field. The Lakers women’s team finished all seven runners in the top 15, even though none came in the top five.
The men’s team and Hoekzema will have the upcoming week off before heading to Joplin, Mo., for the National Finals, at Missouri Southern University. Hoekzema will run at 11:30 a.m. EST and the men will compete for the national title at 12:30 p.m. EST.