Over the past two decades, the cross country program has done nothing but set a standard of excellence — while putting Shawnee State on the map as a national powerhouse in the sport.
To of little surprise for those who follow the team in a close manner, the 2019 Shawnee State cross country unit built on that long-lived success as the Bears put together another spectacular year and were able to claim a seventh-place finish in the NAIA National Championships. The Bears also won their ninth Mid-South Conference Championship in a 10-season stretch this past fall, put seven runners in the top 10 positions at the MSC Championships, and put each of their top-seven runners among the top 105 finishers at the NAIA National Championships to put together one of the best seasons in program history.
The team got things started off on the right foot with their first meet as they finished first out of eight teams in the Mid-South Conference Preview Meet. Two of the top three spots were taken by Bears as Hunter Hoover and Seth Farmer nabbed second and third place in this race. The team finished third in the All-Ohio Championship and the Great Lakes Challenge as well. Farmer led the way in both of these races as he finished in eighth in the All-Ohio Championship and was able to run a sub 25-minute time in the Great Lakes Challenge.
The #JennaStrong Fall Classic that took place in Wilmington ended up being one of the best events for the cross country program. Farmer not only ended up winning the meet, but adding in a time of 24:36 in the 5K race to become the second-fastest runner in program history in the event. Hoover added a top-five finish to solidify a strong outing for Shawnee.
SSU ended the season as strong as they started with a victory in the Mid-South Conference Championships, ending up a point shy of a perfect score. Farmer ended up winning the race with a time of 25:15, with his only real competition coming from his teammates. Steven Adams ended up finishing with a time of 25:46 while Josh Metzung finished 25:53 giving the Bears the three top finishers in the race. Jonah Phillips’ 26:07, Aiden Kammler’s 26:15, Thryecton Deckard’s 26:16, and Owen Reeher’s 26:22 rounded out the top-10 finishers for SSU.
For their performances in Bowling Green, Farmer was named as the MSC Runner of the Year with Phillips being honored with MSC Freshman of the Year accolades and Eric Putnam earning MSC Coach of the Year honors. Adams, Deckard, Farmer, Kammler, Metzung, and Phillips were all honored as All Mid-South Conference First Team members while Hoover and Reeher impressed enough to make the All Mid-South Conference Second Team. TJ Hoggard, Dalton Kerschieter, and Chris Parsons ended up receiving Academic All Mid-South Conference honors to show how well rounded of a program Coach Putnam has put together.
During the season, a Shawnee State runner ended up taking home MSC Runner of the Week honors five different times throughout the season with four of them belonging to Farmer and the other going to Hoover. Farmer ended up putting a stamp on a stellar collegiate career by being honored as a NAIA All American once again for his work this past season. His hard work and dedication were not lost on his teammates or coaches as they chose him to be honored as the school’s Champion of Character.
Shawnee State will look to build on their team success next season, as the Bears, despite losing Farmer, Adams, and Reeher among others, bring back seven of their top 10 runners to the 2020 unit.
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club.