PORTSMOUTH — Over the past two decades, the men’s cross country program has done nothing but set a standard of excellence — while putting Shawnee State University on the map as a national powerhouse in the sport.
To of little surprise for those which follow the team in a close manner, the 2019 Shawnee State cross country unit built on that long-lived success — as the Bears put together another spectacular year and were able to claim a seventh-place finish in the NAIA National Championships.
The Bears also won their ninth Mid-South Conference championship in a 10-season stretch this past fall, put seven runners in the top-10 positions at the MSC Championships, and put each of their top-seven runners among the top-105 finishers at the NAIA National Championships — putting together one of the best seasons in program history.
The team got things started off on the right foot with its first meet, as it finished first out of eight teams in the MSC Preview.
Two of the top three spots were taken by Bears — as Hunter Hoover and Seth Farmer nabbed second and third-place in this race.
The team finished third in the All-Ohio Championship and the Great Lakes Challenge as well.
Farmer led the way in both of these races, as he finished in eighth in the All-Ohio Championship — and was able to run a sub 25-minute time in the Great Lakes Challenge.
The #JennaStrong Fall Classic that took place in Wilmington ended up being one of the best events for the program.
Farmer not only ended up winning the meet, but added in a time of 24:36 in the 5K race to become the second-fastest runner in program history in the event.
Hoover added a top-five finish to solidify a strong outing for Shawnee.
SSU ended the season as strong as it started with a victory in the MSC Championships, ending up a point shy of a perfect score.
Farmer ended up winning the race with a time of 25:15, with his only real competition coming from his teammates.
Steven Adams ended up finishing with a time of 25:46 while Josh Metzung finished in 25:53, giving the Bears the three top finishers in the race.
Jonah Phillips’ 26:07, Aiden Kammler’s 26:15, Thryecton Deckard’s 26:16, and Owen Reeher’s 26:22 rounded out the top-10 finishers for SSU.
For their performances in Bowling Green, Farmer was named as the MSC Runner of the Year with Phillips being honored with MSC Freshman of the Year accolades and Eric Putnam earning MSC Coach of the Year honors.
Adams, Deckard, Farmer, Kammler, Metzung and Phillips were all honored as all-MSC first-team members, while Hoover and Reeher impressed enough to make the all-MSC second team.
T.J. Hoggard, Dalton Kerschieter and Chris Parsons ended up receiving academic all Mid-South Conference honors, showing how well -rounded of a program Coach Putnam has put together.
During the season, a Shawnee State runner ended up taking home MSC Runner of the Week honors five different times — with four of them belonging to Farmer and the other going to Hoover.
Farmer ended up putting a stamp on a stellar collegiate career by being honored as an NAIA All -American once again for his work this past season.
His hard work and dedication were not lost on his teammates or coaches as they chose him to be honored as the school’s Champion of Character.
Shawnee State will look to build on its team success next season, as the Bears — despite losing Farmer, Adams and Reeher among others — bring back seven of its top-10 runners to the 2020 unit.
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club.