Ferris State Men's Cross Country Advances To Nationals; Johnson Wins Women's Title To Advance

Big Rapids, Mich. - For the second consecutive year, the Ferris State University men's cross country team has advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championships.  In addition, senior runner Samantha Johnson claimed a regional title and also advanced to nationals on the women's side.

The Bulldog men placed fourth overall in the 2013 NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Championships held on Saturday (Nov. 9) in Kenosha, Wis.  The regional meet was hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Parkside at the Wayne E. Dannehl Cross Country Course.

Ferris State tallied 148 points in coming in fourth overall while advancing to the national round as the top four teams earned national berths.  Grand Valley State claimed the team title with 53 points followed by Southern Indiana (64) and Cedarville (114) in the top three positions. A total of 29 schools took part in the regional event.

A year ago, the men's squad advanced to the national championships for the first time since 1985. This year marks FSU's ninth all-time Division II national berth in men's cross country.  They also twice took part in the NCAA Division III Championships in the mid-1970's.

Senior David Silversmith paced the Bulldogs as he placed 15th overall in the regional championships with a time of 32:06 in the 8K event.  Junior Spencer Gerber came in 29th overall (32:25) with senior Alex Bladecki 30th (32:26) and senior Brandon Cushman coming in 31st (32:26) as FSU placed four among the top 31 finishers.

Bulldog junior Andrew Harper took 48th place in the large field (32:50) while Bill King was 63rd (33:15) and sophomore Lucas Copi took 78th place (33:33) for Ferris State. A total of 199 runners competed in the race.

On the women's side, Ferris State came in sixth with 206 points. GVSU won the women's race with 42 points with Saginaw Valley State second (103) and Hillsdale third (132) in the 27-team field. Lewis took fourth place with 174 points as the top four teams also advanced in the women's field.

Johnson claimed the regional crown in a time of 21:22, which came on the heels of her GLIAC individual championship two weeks ago.  Senior teammate Anna Rudd narrowly missed advancing while finishing eighth at 21:44 overall. 

Meanwhile, freshman Alyssa Cummings took 58th place (23:01) followed by Emily Haynes in 69th place (23:10). FSU's Breeann Ovokaitys took 76th place (23:16) while Natalie Perrywas 82nd (23:27) and Jessica Delaney came in 154th (24:57) overall.

In addition to the top four teams in the region, the top three individuals not associated with a qualifying team also advanced to nationals along with any individuals who finished among the region's top five overall.

Both Ferris State teams are guided by head coach Steve Picucci.

The 2013 NCAA Division II National Championships will take place on Nov. 23 in Spokane, Wash.

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