SAINT LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo freshman Ronald Cheserek claimed Sunshine State Conference Runner of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors while Head Coach Kent Reiber was tabbed as Coach of the Year for the second straight year, when SSC men's cross country awards for 2016 were announced on Tuesday.
Cheserek, a four-time SSC Runner of the Week selection, set a new Sunshine State Conference Cross Country Championship 8K record when he won the event with a time of 24:24.79. Earlier in the season, Cheserek posted a new Saint Leo 8K record with a time of 24:23 at the Lehigh University Paul Short Run, where he finished 45th overall.
Cheserek was tabbed for U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athlete of the Week honors – the first SSC runner to receive the accolade – after he finished first overall at the University of Florida Mountain Dew Invitational. Cheserek posted a time of 24:43.02 at the UF MDI, finishing 18 seconds ahead of the second-place runner, former UF standout and SEC outdoor 10,000m champion Eddie Garcia.
"What can I say about Ronald that is not said when he steps on the line and competes," said Reiber. "He has an unparalleled drive to succeed, and thus he has earned the recognition. I'm so proud of where he has come from and I'm looking forward to many more years of success."
Matuszczak was the lone four-time All-SSC selection on this year's honorees list. He clocked a time of 24:55.31 at the SSC Championship 8K race while finishing third overall, and crossed the line in a season-best 8K time of 24:52 at Lehigh's Paul Short Run.
Deleva's top 8K time of the season was his 24:59.96 at the SSC Championship, where he turned in a fourth-place finish.
"These guys are the foundation of our success, and their work ethic is unmatched. They have helped create a winning culture and provided our program with inspirational leadership both on and off the course," said Reiber.
"All summer we talked about what it would take to win the championship for a third consecutive year, and from day one these men have surpassed all of my expectations. For Rafal to finish his conference cross country career on the all-conference team speaks volumes of his personality. He never stops running. This is a great year for Anthony, and the sky is the limit for what's left in his tank," added Reiber.
Reiber earned his second SSC men's cross country Coach of the Year award in his second year at the helm of Saint Leo's men's and women's cross country program. The award is his third conference coach of the year accolade; earlier on Tuesday, he was named the SSC women's cross country Coach of the Year.
"I'm excited to earn coach of the year on both sides, but I couldn't do this by myself. Coach Callahan has been my 'right hand man' and allowed me to step away at times to focus on striving for excellence in our program. Coach Henriksen has an inspirational attitude, and brings a wealth of positivity and winning culture to our program. Finally, there is Coach Jones; his drive and passion for our sport pushes all of us to be our best. Without their help, amongst others, I would not have been able to receive this award," said Reiber.
Saint Leo men's cross country will compete in the 2016 NCAA Division II Cross Country South Region Championship, which will be held this Saturday, Nov. 5, at The Abbey Course at Saint Leo University. The men's 10K South Region championship race will be held at 8:30 a.m., followed by the women's 6K championship race at 9:45 a.m.
For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo men's and women's cross country teams, be sure to visit SaintLeoLions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
2016 SUNSHINE STATE CONFERENCE MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY AWARDS
2016 All-SSC Men's Cross Country
Ronald Cheserek, Saint Leo, Fr., Kitale, Kenya
Bobby Ormsby, Florida Southern, Jr., Fort Myers, Fla.
Rafal Matuszczak, Saint Leo, Sr., Wschowa, Poland
Evan Quinones, Florida Southern, Jr., Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Anthony Deleva, Saint Leo, Jr., Coral Springs, Fla.
Dean McGregor, Florida Southern, So., Fort Myers, Fla.
Festus Kemboi, Florida Southern, Fr., Eldoret, Kenya