The Valley City State men's cross country team made its first appearance at the NAIA National Championships in 27 years on Saturday.
Despite finishing 32nd in the 32-team field Saturday, the Viking men ran their fastest team average time of the season as they raced with the best in the country in Lawrence, Kan.
"The team should be very proud of their performance at nationals in running their best team race of the year," said head coach Ken Frenette. "While they were a little disappointed and surprised with their team finish overall, they now have gained some valuable experience for the future to build upon."
Valley City State won its spot at the NAIA National Championships by taking first in the MCAC/North Star national qualifier two weeks ago.
On Saturday, the Vikings face their toughest competition of the year. Freshman Austin Albrecht and Alex Askerooth both posted personal records at nationals, and the team turned in its best team average time.
A total of 313 runners participated in the men's race Saturday. Richard Langdeaux led the Vikings by finishing in 233rd place in a time of 27:08.51. Richard Wright (257) and Austin Albrecht (258) were 20 seconds behind Langdeaux. Wayne Engelhard (276), Malik Jackson (284), Misael Herrera (294) and Alex Askerooth (295) rounded out the Viking finishes. The Vikings were separated by just 1:24 between Langdeaux and Askerooth.
Eric Avila of Southern Oregon won the individual title with a blistering time of 24:02.45, besting the second-place runner by 19 seconds.
Oklahoma City won the team title with 77 points, having two individuals in the Top 10 and and five runners in the Top 30.
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