NEW ORLEANS, LA. -- For the first time this season, the Trine University men's cross country team appeared in the regional rankings published by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Asssociation (USTFCCCA) in the number five spot in the Great Lakes Region.
Each regional ranking consists of 10 teams. The Thunder were tabbed fifth in the season's first rankings of the year. Two other Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association teams are ranked in the top-five with Calvin (Mich.) College taking the top spot and Albion (Mich.) College is ranked third.
The men were ranked twice last season (both as No. 10) which was the first time the team has appeared in the regional rankings on record since 2007. Trine's No. 5 ranking is the highest the Thunder have been ranked under head coach Zach Raber. The USTFCCCA rankings attempt to rank projected finish at the NCAA Division III Regional Championship meets. The rankings weigh the performance of returning runners along with current-season results.
Trine has gotten its season off to a strong start, winning Manchester University's Hokum Karem for the fourth-straight year and placed second in last weekend's Ohio Wesleyan University Invitational.
In the season-opening Hokum Karem, Trine claimed the top-four spots in the race and six of the top seven. The duo of Jonathan Phillips (Royal Center, Ind./Pioneer) and Robert Lewis Duke (Greentown, Ind./Eastern) took top honors with a combined overall time of 39:21.9 and averaged a 4.55 minute mile. In the OWU Invitational, Duke placed third overall individually with a time of 25:45.3. Also placing in the top-20 were freshman Levi Neuzerling (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville), junior Jonathan Phillips (Royal Center, Ind./Pioneer) and Colin Elek (Osceola, Ind./Penn).
The Thunder will take its first step towards competing for a conference title Saturday, Sep. 23 when the team competes in the MIAA Jamboree hosted by Hope. The Jamboree counts one-third towards the final MIAA standings and is set to begin at 11 a.m. in Holland, Mich.