Grace College runner Katelyn McCullough made history at the 2015 Crossroads League Cross Country Championships on Saturday, qualifying for the NAIA National Championships.
McCullough finished fifth in the women’s race at 18:59 to earn All-League status and a place at NAIA Nationals. She becomes just the second women’s runner to reach NAIAs in program history, joining MariJean (Wegert) Sanders who qualified in 2010 and 2008.
“Katelyn ran a PR on a fairly tough course in a league championship meet. That’s all anyone needs to know to understand how great a race it was,” said Grace head coach Jeff Raymond. “She put herself in position during the first mile and then finished really well, passing a few people in the final mile.”
McCullough’s finish helped Grace to a fifth-place showing in the race — the team’s highest since 2009. The men’s team ended eighth out of nine teams.
For the Lady Lancers, freshman sisters Raven Arellano (20:35) and Ariel Arellano (20:36) crossed the finish line within one second of each other. Sarah Hoff was fourth for Grace in 21:30.
Karla Singer was next in line with a time of 21:48, and Liz Fox followed her in 22:13. “Moving into the top half of the conference is a significant improvement after being eighth last year,” Raymond explained. “It also bodes well for the future with a young team.”
On the men’s team, Tyler Houvener finished 32nd to pace Grace in a time of 27:34. Brandon Smith and Sam Hall were second and third in 28:19 and 28:23 respectively.
Brendan Hamilton (28:54) and Joel Bertelsen (28:57) rounded out the top five for the Lancers.
“I though our guys really battled. We’ve fought through a myriad of injuries and still are not anywhere near full strength. But everyone did what they could today, and I’m proud of the effort,” Raymond said. “Tyler [Houvener] is coming on late in the season and has set himself up to run some strong races once track gets started. With no seniors on this squad and three freshmen in the top six, we have great hopes for the future.”
The Lancers will compete in the NCCAA Championships next Saturday at Houghton College in Houghton, N.Y.