Men’s cross country qualifies for national championship

Men’s cross country qualifies for national championship

SAINT LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo men's cross country placed four runners among the top 20 finishers on its way to a second-place finish at Saturday's NCAA Division II South Region Cross Country Championships, held Saturday morning at The Abbey Course at Saint Leo University.

The second-place finish allows the Lions to advance to the national championship, which will also be hosted by Saint Leo at The Abbey Course on Saturday, Nov. 19.

Freshman Ronald Cheserek finished second overall in the field of 116 runners, crossing the finish line in the 10K race in 31:43.69.

Cheserek was 20.4 seconds behind the race winner Alfred Chelanga from Shorter University, who was competing as an individual. Chelanga, who captured South Region individual champion honors for the second consecutive year, posted a time of 31:23.28, roughly a 36-second improvement over his 2015 time on the same Saint Leo course.

Senior Rafal Matuszczak was sixth overall, fifth in points, with a time of 31:55.71, followed by senior Niclas Bez (32:46.92) and junior Anthony Deleva (32:54.21) who were 17th and 18th respectively in points.

Junior Joe Fuller rounded out the list of scoring runners for Saint Leo, crossing the line in 34:15.1  to finish 48th in points, 52nd overall.

Senior Adam Urbaniak (35:03.28, 65th overall/61st in points) and freshman Allen Keister (36:30.38, 98th overall/94th in points) were the pushers for the Lions.

"I'm really proud of our men today," said Kent Reiber, Saint Leo head men's and women's cross country coach. "They went out and gave it their all. Although we didn't finish where we wanted to, we are going to nationals again and that's incredible. We have a few adjustments we need to make before nationals, and I think that will put us in a good spot to do some big things."

Lee University (Tenn.) claimed the South Region team championship, denying Saint Leo in its bid to capture a second straight regional crown on its home course. Lee tallied 52 points, while Saint Leo was second with 89 points and Florida Southern was third with 91 points. All three teams will advance to the national championship meet in two weeks.

Four Saint Leo athletes earned All-South Region honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), by virtue of their finish among the top 25: Cheserek, Matuszczak, Bez, and Deleva.

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