Meet Recap: 2022 NAIA Cross Country Championships

Champions were crowned on Friday at the 2022 NAIA Cross Country Championships!

The meet was held at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Florida.

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Dordt (Iowa) and Taylor (Ind.) won the first team titles in program history, claiming the men’s and women’s crowns, respectively.

2022 NAIA Cross Country Championships – Final Results

Men’s Team
Score
Women’s Team
Score
No. 3 Dordt (Iowa)
97
No. 1 Taylor (Ind.)
59
No. 1 Milligan (Tenn.)
115
No. 2 Milligan (Tenn.)
132
No. 2 The Master’s (Calif.)
151
No. 7 St. Francis (Ill.)
166
No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan
208
No. 6 College of Idaho
174
No. 11 St. Francis (Ill.)
208
No. 5 Cornerstone (Mich.)
211

Men’s 8k Race

Pay no attention to those rankings!

That’s what No. 3 Dordt (Iowa) did, upsetting defending champion and No. 1 Milligan (Tenn.) to win the first team title in school history. The Defenders – eighth last year in their previous best-ever finish in this meet – packed a tight top-4 within 13 seconds (all in the top-25) to score 97 points. The Buffs had two top-10 runners in taking the runner-up position with 115 points. No. 2 The Master’s (Calif.) was third with 151 points, while a tiebreaker was needed to separate No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan and No. 11 St. Francis (Ill.) for fourth place as both scored 208 points.

Dordt started the 8k race patiently, checking in at sixth place with 240 points at the first split at 1170 meters while The Master’s had stormed to the early lead with 60 points. Dordt improved to second at 2170 meters and took control at the 4k split with 101 points. Milligan was also moving up the standings and by 5k the Buffs were clearly the main threat to Dordt. The Defenders’ lead of 41 points dwindled to 19 points at the 7k checkpoint before finishing with the final margin of 18 points. Joe Anderson was Dordt’s leading finisher in 13th.

Individual honors went to Abraham Chelangam of Oklahoma City, who took off early and ran away from everyone to win by 22.1 seconds in 23:41.9. Chelangam gave OCU its fifth individual title in the last six years. The runner-up for the third-straight year was the Star’s Shimales Abebe (24:03.9) as OCU also earned a third-straight 1-2 finish. Haile Stutzman of Huntington (Ind.) was third in 24:05.0, just ahead of Aaron Jones of Milligan (24:05.3) and Bryan Hernandez-Rios of Grace (Ind.) (24:05.6).

Women’s 5k Race

Taylor (Ind.) more than lived up to its No. 1 ranking.

The Trojans dominated the 5k race, placing three in the top-10 to win its first-ever title with 50 points, the lowest total in meet history since 1998. Taylor’s margin of 73 points over defending champion and No. 2 Milligan (Tenn.) was the largest since 2005. No. 6 College of Idaho – a four-time runner-up in the last decade – was third with 201 points, followed by 2020 champion No. 7 St. Francis (Ill.) (203) and No. 5 Cornerstone (Mich.) (211).

Taylor was in control at each checkpoint, always sporting its top-3 tightly among the top-10. Abbey Brennan’s fourth-place finish in 17:28.3 was followed by sisters Noel VanderWall (seventh in 17:33.3) and Ahna VanderWall (10th in 17:35.9). All five of the Trojans’ scorers were in the top-20 with a 1-5 gap of 24.9 seconds.

The individual race was a runaway with Lina May of William Carey (Miss.) earning the Crusaders’ first-ever title in 16:50.9. May, a grad transfer from nearby Southern Miss, had a lead as large as 14.8 seconds and won by 8.0 seconds over freshman Addy Wiley of Huntington (Ind.), who closed fast in 16:58.9. The Foresters had won two of the last three individual titles. Sydney Little Light of Rocky Mountain (Mont.) – last year’s runner-up – was third in 17:25.6, followed by Brennan and Alex Ebetino of Saint Francis (Ind.) (17:29.2).