NORTH NEWTON—Jesse Freeman finished ninth with a season best of 26:37.2 to lead the Bulldog men to a 5th-place team finish at the 2018 KCAC Cross-Country Championships hosted Saturday by Bethel College and in the process earned an individual berth for the NAIA National Championships to be held Friday, Nov.16th in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Joining Freeman on the medal stand was Jerod Fuller, who like Freeman, finished with a season best time of 27:09.6 to place 18th.
The Bulldogs' third finisher was Kevin Boeckman in 26th (27:46.1) just ahead of Cole Hinton in 28th (27:51.1). Final scorer for McPherson was Casey Zimmerman in 42nd (29:11.2), followed by pushers Cole Miller, 58th in 30:05.3, and Thane Barta, 62nd in 30:33.3. Also competing for the Bulldogs were Guillermo Hernandez, 65th in 30:52.4, Jadin Fleming, 78th in 31:55.2, and Albert Wegener, 81st in 32:23.9. Posting new season best times in addition to Freeman and Fuller were Boeckman, Hinton, Miller, Barta, Hernandez and Wegener.
The Bulldog men totaled 112 points to finish just nine points behind Southwestern and Kansas Wesleyan, who each totaled 103 points on their first five scoring finishers, before having the tie broken on the placement of Moundbuilders' better sixth finisher.
The Bulldog women, led by Aryana Archuleta's 23rd place finish in 20:06.8, placed 10th overall in the team race with 224 points.  Following Archuleta's across the finish were scorers LeaAnn Myers, 40th in 21:15.1, Samantha Nelson, 44th in 21:25.6, Rachel Foreman, 61st in 22:19.4, and Cailey Cornett, 77th in 23:44.0.  Also competing for the Bulldog women was Alyssa Wilson who finished 87th in 25:08.4. Myers, Foreman, Cornett and Wilson all covered the Bethel course in new season best times.
"I was extremely pleased with the attitudes and focus of the entire squad today," said McPherson head cross country coach Cameron Magnall afterwards. "We came prepared to run fast and finished with another strong meet that included a lot of PRs and season bests.  Jesse qualifying for nationals adds another highlight to his strong career here at McPherson College.
"I'm proud of the consistent efforts that the team showed throughout the season and I'm excited to see the progress continue into the indoor track season."
Recognized as 2018 KCAC Cross Country "Champions of Character Student-Athletes" for McPherson College were Rachel Foreman and Kevin Boeckman.
The University of Saint Mary swept both the women's and men's individual and team titles.  The team title for the Spires men was their sixth straight while the Spires women won their third overall and second of back-to back titles for the first time in school history.  Women's champion Kaitlyn Shoemaker and men's winner Philip Lagemann both set new Bethel course records as well as new KCAC meet all-time bests with times of 17:47.0 and 24:47.3, respectively. The USM placed five men among the first six finishers and eight among the first 13 finishers to easily take the team title over Friends with 19 points to Friends' 88.
The Spires women placed four among the first eight finishers and their final scorer 24th to take the team title with 43 points. Southwestern edged Friends for second place, 64 points to 75, keyed by the Builders first two ladies finishing second and fourth plus two more in the top 18, while Friends placed all five of its scorers among the top 20.
Team scoring:
WOMEN - 1. St Mary 43; 2. Southwestern 64; 3. Friends 75; 4. Avila 126; 5. Tabor 143; 6. Ottawa 181; 7. York 207; 8. Kansas Wesleyan 212; 9. Sterling 216; 10. McPherson 224; 11. Bethel 319; 12. Oklahoma Wesleyan 336; 13. Bethany 337.
MEN - 1. St Mary 19; 2. Friends 88; 3. Southwestern 103* (39); 4. Kansas Wesleyan 103 (47); 5. McPherson 112; 6. York 174; 7. Ottawa 191; 8. Bethany 201; 9. Avila 247; 10. Sterling 268; 11. Oklahoma Wesleyan 319; 12. Bethel 343; 13. Tabor 345.