The Muhlenberg cross country program continued to break new ground in 2007.
For the first time in history, the Mules qualified runners from both the men’s and women’s teams for the NCAA Division III Championships.
The two men’s qualifiers became the first athletes in team history to run in the national meet twice.
Gearin finished a career-best fourth out of 203 runners at the DeSales Invitational.
The NCAA meet capped a season in which the Muhlenberg men finished in the top four in five of their six meets and the women won the Mule/Falcon Classic.
Considering that they didn’t have a senior finish in the top five all season, the men had an outstanding campaign. Two juniors, NCAA qualifiers David Chorney and Timothy Van Syckle, were joined by mostly freshmen who spent the year adjusting to college cross country.
Chorney made history at the first scored meet of the season by winning the Lehigh Valley Championships, which since 2001 has brought together runners from local Division I, II and III schools. Muhlenberg came in second, behind only host Lehigh, for its best finish ever.
At his next race, Chorney matched
the best finish by a Mule at the prestigious Paul Short Run, coming in second. He followed that with a sixth-place finish at the DeSales Invitational, a meet Muhlenberg might have won had Van Syckle not been held out with injury (the Mules finished fourth, 15 points out of first).
The lone senior on the men’s team, Joseph Brancale was Muhlenberg’s seventh runner at the last three meets of the season.
For the fourth straight meet in which both ran, Van Syckle and Chorney finished in the top 10 at the Centennial Conference Championships, with Van Syckle, in sixth place, taking top honors this time. Muhlenberg came in fourth, landing in the top four for the eighth year in a row.
Ranked seventh in the region heading into the NCAA Mideast Regional at Lehigh, the Mules matched their ranking to place in the top 10 for the sixth time in seven years. Chorney (14th) and Van Syckle (22nd) both earned all-region honors and earned the right to compete at the NCAA Championships.
Like the men, the women received significant contributions from young runners, with two or three freshmen in the top seven every race. Muhlenberg’s top runner, however, was senior Sara Gearin, who scored three top-10 finishes and came in 15th at the NCAA Mideast Regional to qualify for the national meet.
After opening with a solid third-place showing at the Lehigh Valley Championships, the Mules showed their depth by capturing the Mule/Falcon Classic for the fourth time in seven years despite holding out their top four finishers from the Lehigh Valley meet. Muhlenberg still had four runners place in the top 14 to edge Georgian Court by a point.
The Mules finished in the top half of every race except the incredibly competitive CC Championships, which featured the top three teams in the region. Muhlenberg placed third out of 23 teams at the DeSales Invitational, seventh at the CC Championships and 12th at the NCAA Mideast Regional.