HANOVER, Ind. (Blugolds.com) - For the second consecutive year, the UW-Eau Claire men's cross country team is leaving nationals with the best finish in school history as a part of the NCAA Division III.
Led by a 13th-place and All-American finish from Ryan Mugan (So.-Howards Grove, Wis.), the Blugolds placed ninth overall out of 32 teams with 305 points at the NCAA Division III Championship, hosted by Hanover College. The Blugolds placed 10th a year ago. St. Olaf College (Minn.) won the meet with 84 points, capturing its first national title in history.
Mugan, who placed 224th a year ago, moved up over 200 spots this season to nab his first career trophy finish. He covered the 8,000-meter course in 25:02.6.
Christian Leitner (So.-Red Wing, Minn.) was second on the team in first trip to nationals. He placed 55th overall in a time of 25:36.4.
Also competing his first national meet, Nick Petersson (So.-Brookfield, Wis./Central) crossed the line in 76th place in a time of 25:45.7.
Matt Wenaas (Sr.-Chippewa Falls, Wis./McDonell), who placed 194th last year, bettered himself by 62 places this year by coming 132nd this year in a time of 26:07.9.
Matt Scott (Sr.-Kiel, Wis.) came in 146th place in his first race at cross country nationals. His time was 26:13.7.
The national meet caps off one of the best season's in team history. The Blugolds placed second at conference on Nov. 2 and came within five points of capturing their first conference title since 1980. They also had their highest finish ever at NCAA regionals a week ago by placing fourth.