2016 CWRU Men’s Cross Country Season Recap

2016 CWRU Men’s Cross Country Season Recap

Highlighted by one of the best individual seasons in the program's history by junior Sam Merriman, the Case Western Reserve University men's cross country team once again ranked among the top teams in the region in 2016.

Merriman capped off his stellar 2016 campaign with a 21st-place finish out of 278 runners at the 2016 NCAA Division III Championships in Louisville, Kentucky to earn the first All-America honor of his career.  He recorded a career-best time of 24:43.5 in the 8K race, while climbing 146 spots from his finish at the meet last year.  Merriman became the eighth runner in the history of the CWRU men's cross country team to earn an All-America honor, and the first since Aaron Johnston-Peck in 2004.  In addition, he became the second Spartan ever and the first men's cross country runner in University Athletic Association history to win the Elite 90 Award, for having the highest grade point average among competitors at the NCAA Championships.

Merriman earned qualification for the NCAA Championships after finishing seventh individually to earn All-Region honors at the NCAA DIII Great Lakes Championships in Holland, Michigan, helping lead the team to a sixth-place finish out of 36 competing squads.  Earning the first All-Region honor of his career at the meet was senior Galen Caldwell, who placed 26th overall.

At the 2016 University Athletic Association Championships in Whitesburg, Georgia, Merriman earned a spot on the all-conference first team after finishing third overall.  He became the first Spartan to claim All-UAA honors since 2012, and the 13th CWRU runner overall and the first since Dominic Smith in 2008 to receive All-UAA First Team honors.  The Spartans finished seventh overall at the conference meet.

Merriman also won the Division III Championship at the All-Ohio Championships (become the first Spartan to do so since Smith in 2008) and finished 12th overall out of 287 competitors in the race, as the Spartans finished fourth out of 16 teams in the standings.   Other significant team finishes during the season include a season-place finish out of 29 teams at the Yellowjacket Invitational in Rochester, New York, a second-place finish out of 11 teams at the Behrend Invitational in Erie, Pennsylvania, and a sixth-place finish out of 32 teams at the Inter-Regional Rumble in Oberlin, Ohio.

In addition to Merriman and Caldwell, other consistent top-five finishers for the Spartans included junior Aidan DeSanto, sophomore James De La Cruz and freshman Luke Robbins.  DeSanto was the team's second finisher in a pair of events and its third finisher in three others, including the All-Ohio Championships, where he placed 30th among Division III competition.  De La Cruz ran his best race of the year at the UAA Championships, finishing 39th overall and third among all CWRU runners with a career-best time of 25:58.56.  In his first season of collegiate competition, Robbins was the team's fourth finisher in four of the six races he competed in, including at the Inter-Regional Rumble, where he recorded a season-best time of 26:00.5.

The Spartans opened their 2016 season by hosting the annual Sudeck Sunset Classic Stampede at Squire Valleevue Farm.  Merriman (19:24) and DeSanto (19:44) took first- and second-place, respectively, in the 6K race, while Robbins (seventh, 20:16), De La Cruz (ninth, 20:19), and junior Ben Whitman (10th, 20:26) rounded out the top-five finishers for Case Western Reserve in the season-opening event.

In addition to their success on the field, 17 members of the men's cross country team received UAA Fall All-Academic Recognition, including Caldwell, De La Cruz, DeSanto, junior James Gibson, senior Michael Girbino, sophomore Paul Halliday, senior Andrew Hamm, junior Ryan Honens, sophomore Robert Iriye, senior Bryan Kelly, junior Nicholas Knorz, senior Patrick Leo, Merriman, sophomore Ben Resnick, senior Ryan Seballos, junior Joseph Volpe, and junior Ben Whitman.

Case Western Reserve University runners earned the following awards during the 2016 season:

All-America

Sam Merriman

Middlesex, Vt. / U-32

21st Place

 

All-Great Lakes Region

Sam Merriman

Middlesex, Vt. / U-32

Seventh Place

Galen Caldwell

Seattle, Wash. / Roosevelt

26th Place

 

All-UAA

Sam Merriman

Middlesex, Vt. / U-32

First Team (Third Place)

 

NCAA Elite 90 Award

Sam Merriman

Middlesex, Vt. / U-32