For the first time in school history, the York College men's cross country squad has earned a team berth in the 2017 NCAA Division III National Championship Meet in Elsah, Illinois.
The national championship meet will be held on Saturday, November 18 at the North Farm Facility in Elsah. The men's race starts at noon.
The Spartans finished fourth in Saturday's Mideast Regional and earned one of the 16 at-large team bids to the championship. The Spartans and head coach Stephen LoBianco will take eight student-athletes to Illinois.
The championships feature 32 teams with 16 earning automatic berths by finishing first or second in their respective regions. The remaining 16 teams earned at-large berths. The Mideast Region is represented by Haverford and Carnegie Mellon, the two automatic bid winners and by Johns Hopkins and York, the two at-large bid selections.
Seniors Alex Smith, Grant Dell, Andy MacGibbon, and Andrew Erickson, junior Ben Linne and freshmen Jake O'Neill and Drew Alansky along with alternate Kieran White will represent the Spartans at the championships. Erickson is a Red Lion High School graduate and Linne is a Northeastern grad.
"I am so excited for these guys to make it to nationals," said LoBianco. "The amount of work they have put in since being the first ones out last year has been massive and I am glad to see them get the chance to continue and end at the highest level of competition. To be the first XC team that has ever gone from York has been an honor."
The berth for the Spartans is the first for a Mideast Regional team to come out of the Capital Athletic Conference. The Spartans are just the second men's team behind Christopher Newport to qualify a team for the Division III Men's Championship out of the CAC.
The Spartans have had individual success at the NCAA Championships. Former Spartan standout Tim Hartung was a three-time qualifier (2011, 2012, and 2013). Hartung was a two-time All-American, finishing seventh in his junior year and 24th as a senior in 2013.
The 2017 season has been a season of firsts for York, which also earned its first national ranking, breaking into the top 35 three weeks ago when they debuted at 22nd. Currently York sits at 23rd nationally and fourth in the Mideast Region.
The Spartans will head to Illinois on Wednesday to prepare for Saturday's championship meet.