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December 11, 2018

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Season review: Men’s cross country

ADA — The Ohio Northern men's cross country team continued to show its strength during the 2017 campaign as it claimed the Ohio Athletic Conference title for the third consecutive season under ninth-year head coach Jason Maus.

The Polar Bears (126-37 overall) posted their second consecutive top-20 finish at the 2017 National Championships in Elsah, Ill. behind junior Ian McVey's (Stow/Munroe Falls) All-American performance.

Northern also completed its 19th consecutive winning season and 13th consecutive top-3 finish in the Ohio Athletic Conference. The Polar Bears won the OAC Title for the third consecutive season, completing the feat for the first time in school history.

ONU landed five All-OAC honorees, including the individual champion and runner up at the OAC Championships. McVey was named the individual champion, as ONU claimed the individual title for the second consecutive season, after former Polar Bear Andrew Harden won the event in 2016. McVey was named the OAC Men's Runner of the Year, claiming the honor for the second consecutive season.

Senior Matt Molinaro (Sterling Heights, Mich./De La Salle) finished second at the event to earn First Team All-OAC honors, while senior Bobby Borger (Perrysburg) finished fifth overall in 25:23.2 to earn First Team All-OAC honors.

Northern saw two more athletes earn All-OAC honors as senior Sam Boyd (Killbuck/West Holmes) and junior Spencer Schulze (St. Henry) finished 12th and 13th overall to earn Second Team All-OAC honors.

The coaching staff of head coach Jason Maus and assistant coaches Casey Gantt, Nathan Rosenbaum and Cully Gordon were named the OAC Men's Coaching Staff of the Year for the third consecutive season and also earned the All-Ohio Coaching Staff of the Year.

McVey followed his OAC Championships victory with a dominating performance at the Div. III All Great-Lakes Regional meet, where he became the first men's runner in school history to win the regional meet. For his efforts, McVey was named the Great Lakes Region Male Runner of the Year for the 2017 campaign.

McVey also garnered the All-Ohio Div. III Male Runner of the Year for his efforts this season.

Molinaro raced to 6th place in 25:34.2 and Borger placed 13th overall in 25:49.8. Both runners earned United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Great Lakes All-Region honors by finishing in the top-35.

The Polar Bears earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Div. III Championships after finishing third as a team in the Great Lakes Regional meet.

Northern finished 19th as a team at the National Championships behind McVey's top-10 finish.

The junior finished in 10th place overall in 24:37, recording the third fastest time in school history and becoming the third men's runner in school history to earn the All-American distinction.

Five Polar Bears garnered Academic All-OAC status during the 2017 season, marking the third consecutive season Northern has had at least three members earn the honor.

Seniors Michael Murray (Strongsville) and Evan Murtha (Pickerington/North) and sophomores Kyle Neff (Sagamore Hills/Walsh Jesuit), Bryan Peck (Westerville/North) and Andrew Shelton (Williamsville, N.Y./South) all received the honor.

Murray, a chemistry major, has completed in 24 career races and has posted a career-low time of 28:27.

He is now a three-time Academic All-OAC honoree.

Murtha is majoring in pharmacy and has completed in 24 career races.

His career-best effort of 27:56 came this season at the All-Ohio Championships.

Neff ran his career-low time of 28:29 this season at the Calvin (Mich.) Knight Invitational.

He is majoring in accounting.

Peck is an electrical engineering/physics major.

He posted a top-7 finish at the Tiffelberg Invitational and ran a career-low 27:37 at the Calvin (Mich.) Knight Invitational.

Shelton ran his career-low time of 27:15 at the OAC Championships, where he finished 46th out of 141 runners.

He is majoring in mechanical engineering.

The Polar Bears opened the season with a first place finish at the Bluffton Invitational for the fifth consecutive season.

After two top-5 finishes at the Calvin (Mich.) Invitational and the Tiffelberg Open, Northern finished first of 17 Div. III schools at the All-Ohio Championships.

ONU would then compete at the Principia (Ill.) Cowbell Classic for the 2017 Pre-National meet where it finished 12 of 38 teams.

From there, Northern won the OAC Championships, finished thrid at the Div. III Great Lakes Regional meet and wrapped up the season with a 19th place finish at the NCAA Div. III National Championships.

"This was a really great year for us," said head coach Jason Maus. "Our guys were really focused from the beginning of the season and they put in the work to be good. We really showed growth throughout the season. The backstretch of our schedule was really good for us. We competed in some tough meets and ran really well at conference. I really think we were our best at the right time this season. Ian and Matt had really good years and the rest of our team really showed improvement. I'm really happy with the way our season turned out."