VANCOUVER, Wash. (Nov. 22, 2019) – Junior Nathan Baker can add NAIA Cross Country All-American to his long list of accomplishments with the No. 15 Milligan College men's cross country and track & field program. A track national champion over the indoor 3000 meters and the 2019 Appalachian Athletic Conference Runner of the Year, Baker led Milligan to a 14th-place finish at the NAIA Cross Country National Championship Friday at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
Baker ran the men's 8K national championship in 25:20, taking 22nd overall in the field of 37 teams and 335 individuals.
"Nathan got out, got in good position, and I'm proud of how he battled today," Head Coach Chris Layne said. "I felt like Tim (Thacker) and Alex (Mortimer) did enough, but we just didn't get it down on the back end of our crew."
This marked Milligan's highest-ever finish at the national championships and fifth time finishing in the top 25 since 2003. Baker's spot at No. 22 was the highest individual finish by a Buff since 2011, when Austin Ellis took ninth. Baker became Milligan's eighth All-American in men's cross country.
Baker, Thacker continue season theme
As they have done all season, Baker and Tim Thacker were Milligan's No. 1 and No. 2. Thacker followed close behind in 54th place with a time of 25:56, missing the cut for All-American status by less than 30 seconds.
"I know our expectations were pretty high but this was the highest-ever team finish, and I think we gained a ton of experience," Layne said. "We have the majority of these guys back next year so we'll learn from this and look for it to carry over."
Alex Mortimer (26:01) came next in 59th, Mitch Bronstetter (26:46) ran to 151st, and Jake Crow (26:53) rounded out Milligan's scoring in 169th. Andrew Burton and Pablo Rivas both ran 27:34, placing 235th and 236th.
Baker was the top individual and Milligan was the top team from the AAC. No. 22 Montreat landed 28th as the only other competing team from the league.
Oklahoma City claimed the top spot as a team and had the top individual, with Mark Shaw winning the event by three and a half seconds with a time of 24:39.