Youngwood, PA – Garrett College's newly reinstated men's cross country program didn't have to wait long to claim a championship. Sophomore Christian Jordan was the individual runner-up as the Lakers took three of the top five spots on Thursday in winning the Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference team title.
Garrett placed all five of its point-scoring runners among the top eight finishers and claimed the team title by beating host Westmoreland County Community College, 22-33.
Jordan completed the course in 30:29.5, just less than 49 seconds off the title pace set by host Westmoreland's Daniel Miller (29:40.6).
"I was hoping to break 30 minutes," said Jordan of the 8-kilometer (approximately 5 miles) race. "Around the 3-mile mark is where I cramped up a little bit. Otherwise I was pretty happy with the race."
Community College of Allegheny County's Gary Blough took third (31:46.0), followed by a pair of Laker teammates, freshman Bryson Brill (32:00.7) and sophomore Zach Warnick (32:01.3), who finished less than a second apart.
Jordan, Brill and Warnick – all Southern Garrett High grads – each made the all-WPCC team by finishing in the top five.
"Southern High has a great running program and it's really helped us drawing from the Southern program," said GC head coach Jeff Hoffman.
Jordan indicated the Lakers are a close-knit team.
"It's been fun. I'm running with a lot of the same people I ran with in high school, and I've also made some new friends," said Jordan of the championship season.
Hoffman – whose coaching experience is heavily weighted towards basketball – praised the contributions made by assistant coaches Phil Warnick and Dale Luy.
"Phil brings a wealth of coaching experience – and he works our kids hard," said Hoffman. "And Dale was Frostburg State's long-time coach. He brings a lot to our program."
This is the second WPCC title of the month for Garrett College. The Lakers previously claimed the WPCC men's golf team title.
The Lakers will look to add to their championship trophy case this Saturday when they participate in the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference and Region XX championship meets at Hagerstown Community College. The women's championship race is scheduled for 10 a.m. and the men's race is set for an 11 a.m. start.