By Marian Baker, Staff Writer
The men’s cross country team and junior Allie Buchalski competed in the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Ky. Nov. 21, and their achievements at this national meet made Furman cross country history.
Buchalski finished seventh with a time of 20:02.6, becoming the first All-American runner in the history of the Furman cross country program. This rounds out a phenomenal season for Buchalski, who was the top finisher at four meets this season, including the Pre-NCAA Invitational and the SoCon Championships.
After finishing in fourth place at the NCAA Southeast Regional, the men’s team entered the race with an at-large bid and ranked fifteenth nationally. They went on to improve that ranking by placing thirteenth, one of the best finishes nationally in the history of Furman cross country.
Furman head coach Robert Gary was pleased with his runners’ performances at the national meet.
“Allie’s performance was phenomenal, and I was very excited about the men’s race as well,” Gary said. “In the men’s race, we overcame a couple of our runners falling at the start and still had a great finish.”
Gary also looks forward to even better finishes in the coming years.
“Our ranking nationally has increased steadily over the past three to four years as we have built up the program, and in the future we look forward to getting a trophy and having not just one but several All-Americans,” he said.
Gary would also like to see both men’s and women’s teams at the national meet next year. This will certainly be helped by the fact that the entire team on both the men’s and women’s sides will return next season. In addition, both teams will also add an amazing recruiting class of incoming freshmen in 2016.
For the Class of 2020, 10 new recruits have signed to run for Furman, including eight women and two men. Already, this new recruiting class has garnered national recognition as one of the best in the nation.
Many of the new recruits have won multiple state championship titles and some have received national accolades. One recruit even holds 38 combined cross country, indoor track and outdoor track state titles.
“Our newest recruiting class is a bit bigger on the women’s side,” Gary said. “Our goal with this latest recruiting class of women is to match the success we have seen with our men’s team and beyond.”
As for the men’s recruits, Gary feels that they will give the team the jump it needs to become a trophy-contending program.
“We have already experienced some national success, and I think these recruits will help us build on that, and potentially help us win a national trophy,” he said.
For now, though, Gary keeps his eyes on the spring track and field season
“I’m looking forward to a great performance this spring, especially from Allie Buchalski and Troy Reeder,” he said. “We could really see them go far.”