Case Western Reserve University junior Sam Merriman finished 21st at the 2016 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday, becoming the eighth men's cross country runner in program history to earn All-America status.
Merriman ran his most aggressive race of the season, passing the first checkpoint in 12th-place, and the second checkpoint, just over halfway through the race, in 13th-place with a time of 12:44.8. After coming across the third checkpoint in 16th place with a time of 19:12.9, he was able to secure the All-America honor by crossing the finish line 21st overall among the field of over 250 finishers.
Merriman's time of 24:43.5 was a personal-best mark, eclipsing his previous career-best time of 24:48.2, set at the Inter-Regional Rumble earlier this season. Competing at the NCAA Championships for the second-straight year, Merriman climbed an incredible 146 spots from his finish last year, when he placed 167th overall.
The University of Wisconsin – Platteville's Ian LaMere won the individual NCAA Championship for the second-straight year with a time of 23:40.4. North Central College won the team title with a score of 60.
Merriman became first CWRU men's cross country runner to claim an all-America honor since Aaron Johnston-Peck in 2004, and the eighth Spartan overall to earn the honor, in addition to Brian Castleberry (1994), Steve Cullen (1993, 1994), Peter Kummant (1975, 1976, 1977), Greg Bowser (1972, 1973, 1974), Doug Leary (1974) and Jeff Tanchon (1974).
The All-America finish caps off one of the best individual seasons in the program's history for Merriman. The junior won the All-Ohio Division III Championship earlier in the season, finished third at the 2016 University Athletic Association Championships, and claimed seventh-place at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships. In addition, last night he was selected as the NCAA's Elite 90 Award winner for men's cross country, awarded to the competitor at the NCAA Championship with the highest cumulative grade point average. Merriman carries a perfect 4.0 grade point average as an Engineering Physics major.