Fourth-Place Finish Propels Nafziger To National Meet

Despite a more talented field, Dan Nafziger bettered his finished from two weeks ago.
Despite a more talented field, Dan Nafziger bettered his finished from two weeks ago.

For the third straight year, Eastern Mennonite University will have a representative at the NCAA National Cross Country Championship.  Dan Nafziger (Harrisonburg, VA/Harrisonburg) will follow in Richy Bikko's footsteps as he finished fourth at the South/Southeast Regional meet to earn a trip to Winneconne, WI, next week.

Nafziger shaved 15 seconds off his time from the ODAC Championships two weeks ago to cross fourth Saturday at the meet hosted by Texas Lutheran in Sequin, TX.  With his time of 26:26.7, he was just 22 seconds behind winner John Kieffer on Centre College.

The finish also earned Nafziger All-South/Southeast Region First Team honors and he beat six runners who crossed in front of him at the ODAC meet.  He will now race on Saturday, Nov. 19, at the National Meet hosted by UW-Oshkosh.  Seniors Tim Smith of Roanoke and Sean Whitson of Virginia Wesleyan were second and third, respectively.

Coach Jason Lewkowicz said Nafziger is regaining his form after struggling with a midseason illness.

"I am thrilled for Dan," said Lewkowicz.  "He has been through a lot this season and to put it all together on the big stage shows his toughness and determination.  He will represent EMU very well next week in Wisconsin."

Pete Nelson (Harrisonburg, VA/Christopher Dock) was EMU's next runner at the regional meet, taking 89th in 29:02.1.

The Royals' young core provided the rest of the team scoring, headed by freshman Jesse Parker (Wichita, KS/Wichita East) who was 126th in 30:40.2.  Classmate Roberto Wingfield (Glen Allen, VA/Hermitage) was 156th in 32:14.4 followed two spots later by Nels Akerson (Harrisonburg, VA/Eastern Mennonite) in 32:18.9.  Thomas Millary (Dillsburg, PA/Homeschool) crossed in another ten spots with a time of 34:37.8.

As a team, Eastern Mennonite took 19th out of 23 teams.  The men had 480 points ahead of Southwestern (TX) at 526 and behind Birmingham-Southern, which had 465.  ODAC opponent Lynchburg took the team title by a single point over Centre, 112 to 113.