Lakeland, FL- The Berea College men's cross country team competed at the 2015 USCAA Men's Cross Country National Championship in Lakeland, FL. The Mountaineers outran the competition and placed first in the race against 23 other teams, giving them the title of 2015 National Champions. The team finished with a total time of 2:16:27, with the second place team and the former four time defending national champions SUNY-ESF finishing close to seven minutes behind the Mountaineers. Emmanuell Kemmei, who as a freshman finished in 28th place and fifth on the team at the 2014 USCAA Men's Cross Country National Championship, earned the title as the 2015 USCAA Men's Cross Country Individual Champion in a rapid and impressive turnaround.
Berea had four of the top five finishers in the race, with Kemmei at 26:32, Jeremy Johnson in second place with a time of 26:42, a third place finish for Logan McKenzie 26:52 and Isisah Dodson finishing in fifth place with a time of 27:42. Other finishers for the men included Dylan Watkins with a 14th place finish with a time of 28:36, Tanner Carson's 27th place finish (29:37) and finishing with a time of 31:51 was Casey Monti, which put him in 53rd on the board.
With their finishing spot, Kemmei, Johnson, McKenzie and Dodson all earned the honor of being named First Team USCAA Men's Cross Country All-Americans, while Watkins was recognized as a member of the Second Team USCAA Men's Cross Country All-American. Head coach Mike Johnson was also named USCAA National Coach of the Year.
Florida had record high temperatures as the start gun went off at 11:00 AM for the men. The course consisted of two loops, one large and one smaller. Because of the heat several runners were not able to finish and several had to be taken to the hospital and treated. Two of those were Berea College runners that impressively finished the race. Both student-athletes have been released from the hospital and are recovering well.
"Coming into the race we knew we had a good shot to win but we did not want to let it slip through our hands again," said assistant coach Shawn Jakubowski. "We knew the heat would play a large factor in the tactics of the race so we prepared ourselves for that by hydrating and coming up with a smart race plan. The men stuck to the plan and really took over on the second loop of the race. The mental toughness of these runners really showed on Friday and they ran the race for each other and left it all out on the course and in the end it paid off. That was a day that the staff and student-athletes will never forget."
The men's cross country team finished the season winning five of their seven meets and was one of the most impressive seasons Berea College cross country has ever had.