With the success that Shippensburg University’s men’s cross-country team has had under former Olympian and head coach Steve Spence, it may soon be time to rename Shippensburg “Title Town.”
The men’s cross-country team used an unbelievable effort by Rob Moser and Top 5 finishes by Alex Balla and Calvin Conrad-Kline to pace the Raiders to their second straight Atlantic Region title.
Moser covered Lock Haven University’s 10K course in 30 minutes and 51 seconds, edging out Edinboro University’s Austin Pondel by a second to become SU’s first individual regional champion in 37 years.
To come away with a championship, individual performances are great, but having a strong core that can finish near the top is exactly what has made SU so strong in recent years.
Balla’s day was impressive, as he finished third-overall on Saturday, just four seconds behind Pondel. The senior’s finish in 30:56.7 matched his third-place finish at the 2016 regional championships. Balla finished in fifth place as a sophomore in 2015.
Conrad-Kline covered the course in 31:02.2, good enough for fifth place at the meet. Conrad-Klines’ finish is his best at the Atlantic Region meet and it was his third-straight All-Region performance.
Perhaps more impressively, Dominic Stroh and Sean Weidner both ran to big finishes for the Raiders, despite the duo battling injuries throughout the season. Stroh finishes in 10th while Weidner finished 16th in his first Atlantic Region meet as a member of the Raiders. Weidner finished in 15th last season for Lock Haven before transferring to SU.
The team’s younger runners, sophomores Connor Holm and Brian Iatarola, also ran to strong finishes in their regional 10K debuts, finishing in 27th and 44th, respectively. Holm’s 27th-place finish was two spots shy of earning him an All-Region honor.
Moser’s first-place finish gave him SU’s first Atlantic Region individual champion since Gregg Sanders did so back in 1980. It is the second All-Region finish for Moser, who finished in 17th-place last season as a freshman.
Moser was running just his third-career collegiate cross-country 10K and took advantage of a relatively flat and fast Lock Haven course to improve his PR by 2:35.
With the win, SU won its third straight Atlantic Region title, and will advance to the NCAA Division II Championships for the seventh time in the last eight seasons under Spence. SU’s appearance at the championships will be its 20th in school history. SU finished 16th last season at the national championships in St. Leo, Florida.
The 2017 National Championships will be held Saturday, Nov. 18, in Evansville, Indiana.