The Cedarville men dominated the field on Saturday in the 23rd Annual Friendship Invitational. They won the meet for the fourth year in a row (eighth time in the history of the meet) with 19 points, 60 points ahead of Cumberlands (Ky.), who finished with 79 points. Dayton took third as a team with 84 points.
On an overcast morning and with a slightly soggy field, Cedarville’s runners took five of the top seven places. Senior Matt Brooker repeated as meet champion, leading the race from the beginning and finishing in a time of 24:58, 40 seconds ahead of the next runner, teammate Ben Tuttle. Tuttle crossed the line in 25:39 to take second place. Not far behind were Ryan Gustafson (fourth; 25:52), Joe Niemiec (fifth; 25:59) and Matt Cheney (seventh; 26:07). Clay Watson (14th; 26:33) and Neil Klinger (18th; 26:41) rounded out Cedarville’s top seven.
“They did really well,” Brooker said. “There were some really strong performances, which is just a reflection of a lot of hard work I think and God’s blessing.”
Brooker said many of the guys on the team have had physical challenges lately, such as anemia and muscles pulls.
“We’ve all had our own struggles, so the Lord has really helped us overcome those,” Brooker said.
While some of the guys didn’t perform quite as well, Brooker said that he “was really glad to see people were able step it up” and hopes that the team will race even better at the All-Ohio Intercollegiate Championship in two weeks.
The All-Ohio will be held on Cedarville’s home course on Oct. 4. The men will be running at at 2 p.m.