The running prowess of Shawnee State’s Jonah Phillips and Hunter Hoover paid off in a big way for both themselves and the SSU men’s cross country program Friday afternoon as the standout duo obtained NAIA All-American honors by placing inside the top-40 overall — all while also leading Shawnee State to its third consecutive national top-15 finish in men’s cross country with the Bears’ 12th place finish in the 35-team field.
The Bears, who claimed 360 points en route to their 12th place showing, were one of the dozen teams that ran an average time of under 26 minutes per runner in the race. En route to running an average of 25:59 per runner, Shawnee State put together a total time of two hours, nine minutes and 51 seconds between its scoring runners — just over five minutes back of the national champion, Taylor.
Phillips and Hoover, who each earned NAIA All-American status for the first time in their careers as a result, finished 38th and 39th, respectively, in the 317-runner field. In doing so, the pair finished just over 30 seconds apart from each other, with Phillips clicking off a 25:23.50 and Hoover sprinting to a 25:24.21 himself.
The pair’s NAIA All-American honors cap off a fantastic season for the duo, who combined to win four Mid-South Conference Runner of the Week Awards, two First-Team All-MSC honors, and a Mid-South Conference Runner of the Year Award (Hoover) in addition to the two NAIA All-American honors.
The duo’s top-40 finishes also marked the second season in a row with the Bears placing at least two individuals inside the top-40 overall. Seth Farmer, who finished 10th to become an NAIA All-American himself, and Steven Adams, who placed 34th a year prior to the All-American list being expanded to 40, also finished inside that realm.
Along with Phillips’ and Hoover’s finishes this past year, the pair were joined inside the top-100 overall by Josh Metzung and Aiden Kammler. Metzung ran the 86th-fastest time in the race with a 26:04.16 while Kammler posted a 95th-place mark with his 26:11.55. Hunter Bennington’s 147th place finish rounded out the main points finishers for Shawnee State in the meet, with Bennington notching a 26:47.69 overall.
In addition to the above quintet, Jacob Nichols and Aidan Judd also competed for SSU. Nichols finished 174th overall (26:59.24) while Judd placed 247th in his first-ever national championship appearance as a runner (27:59.67).
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