Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University cross country program had an impressive showing at the 2013 NCAA Division II National Championships held on Saturday (Nov. 23) in Spokane, Wash.
The Bulldogs were represented at this year's national championships by the men's cross country team along with senior Samantha Johnson, who competed as an individual in the women's field at the Plate Ferry Sports Complex.
Johnson started off the day by taking fifth place in the nation in the women's 6K race, which represents the highest individual finish ever by a Bulldog in school history. She clocked 21:07.20 in the race and was only 17 seconds off the winning pace established by the University of Mary's (N.D.) Jennifer Agnew, who turned in a first-place time of 20:50.70. Her performance topped the school's previous best finish of sixth place set by former standout Tina Muir in 2011 at the national championships.
On the heels of Johnson's impressive performance, the Bulldog men's cross country team turned in one of the country's top performances as well as the Bulldogs placed 10th overall at the national championships. FSU entered the national meet ranked 23rd in the Division II national poll, but climbed the leaderboard after a strong conclusion to the 2013 campaign.
Adams State (Colo.) claimed the men's team title with 54 points followed by Grand Valley State (104) and Augustana (122) in the top three among the 32 teams that qualified to compete in the men's national championships. Ferris State totaled a 312 team score and moved past two teams in Southern Indiana and Cedarville that had placed above FSU in the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships.
The Bulldog men were led by senior David Silversmith, who joined Johnson as an All-America performer by finishing 31st overall in a time of 31:10.10 in the men's 10K race. He was followed by senior Brandon Cushman in 55th place (31:34.40) with a third senior in Alex Bladecki taking 83rd place at 31:59.40.
FSU junior Spencer Gerber placed 101st (32:17.50) with fellow junior Andrew Harperfinishing 108th (32:24.50) in the race. Sophomore Lucas Copi came in 146th (32:44.10) with senior Bill King rounding out the lineup in 149th place (32:47.00). Overall, a total of 246 men's runners competed in the race.
The Bulldog men's team qualified for nationals for the second consecutive year on the heels of last year's appearance, which was the program's first since 1985. This year marked FSU's ninth all-time trip to the national championships.
Meanwhile, Johnson was an individual qualifier for the national championships after winning the individual crown at the 2013 NCAA Midwest Regional held on Nov. 9 in Kenosha, Wis. She claimed both GLIAC and United States Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Runner of the Year honors this fall.
The NCAA Division II National Cross County meet returned to the Plantes Ferry Athletic Complex in Spokane on Saturday for the second time in three years. Thirty-two men's and 32 women's teams competed for the national team title. In addition, 26 men and 25 women qualified for the meet as individuals.
Both Ferris State programs are guided by head coach Steve Picucci.