Behind the return of each of their top seven runners from a unit that won the Mid-South Conference Championship in 2018 and finished 13th at the 63rd Annual NAIA National Championship Meet last November, the Shawnee State men’s cross country program was able to claim top billing in the Mid-South Conference Preseason Poll that was released by officials from within the conference on Monday morning.
Shawnee State, who was the only Mid-South Conference program to put each of its five scoring runners (Seth Farmer, Steven Adams, Hunter Hoover, Owen Reeher, and Josh Metzung) inside the top-10 overall at last year’s Mid-South Conference Championship Meet, returns each of its top 11 runners, who all finished 37th or higher, at the MSC Meet, including Farmer, Adams, Hoover, Reeher, Metzung, Thryceton Deckard, Hunter Bennington, Hunter Parsons, Jacob Kemper, Mark Scott, Dalton Kerschieter, and Jake Nichols. Farmer, who won the MSC’s Runner of the Year by winning the MSC Conference Championship Meet, finished 14th overall with a 24:49.
The Bears, who garnered 49 votes as a result of those returning contributors, garnered seven first-place votes to lead all comers in both categories. SSU’s total distanced the Bears from second-place Campbellsville — who obtained the remaining first-place vote — by eight points.
Behind the duo, a close race for third was won out by Cumberlands (Ky.), who scored 36 points to edge Cumberland (Tenn.)’s 34 tallies. Just 17 points separated the remaining four slots, with Lindsey Wilson nabbing 24 points en route to obtaining fifth place and Thomas More, along with Georgetown (Ky.), posting 18 and 15 points to finish sixth and seventh overall in the rankings. Pikeville (Ky.), with seven points to their credit, rounded out the field.
Shawnee State begins its 2019 men’s cross country schedule with a meet at the Mid-South Conference Preview in Bowling Green, Ky. In addition to the annual Fall Bear Run that is open to the general public on Sept. 25, the Bears will also host their first home meet against outside competition in five years when the Bears host the Shawnee State Cross Country Invitational on Friday, Oct. 11 at Earl Thomas Conley Park in West Portsmouth.
The senior class, which includes Adams, Farmer, Kemper, Reeher, Scott, Trent Patterson, Tim Secoy and Shane Washington, will be looking for their fourth straight Mid-South Conference Championship in as many seasons. The group will also be looking to garner a national top-10 finish for the first time since 2016 and the sixth time in program history, with the 2009 through 2013 seasons serving as the additional five campaigns.