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Maple Leafs tabbed third in league, 33rd among 209 NAIA programs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Goshen College men’s cross country team outranked all but 32 programs in the NAIA in the men’s cross country coaches poll announced Wednesday afternoon.

The Maple Leafs picked up 16 points in the poll, more than three times their total from the previous tabulation on September 19. Goshen was not ranked in the preseason poll.

Goshen was one of three Crossroads League schools and four Indiana institutions to get national recognition: from the conference, Indiana Wesleyan was 10th and Taylor 12th, while Indiana Tech of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference was 17th.

All told, 40 NAIA schools received votes in the poll: there are 209 NAIA men’s cross country programs.

The NAIA cross country coaches’ polls are voted on by a panel of 21 coaches, one from each conference. The highest and lowest ranking for each school is discarded, so a team must appear on a minimum of two ballots to qualify as “receiving votes.” The poll also determines the eight at-large bids to the NAIA championship in November.

The Maple Leafs have taken fourth and fifth in a pair of invitationals this season. Last Saturday, the team was 32nd in the Blue Race at the Louisville Sports Commission Classic in Kentucky: the Blue Race was the middle section of the three-race field and GC finished ahead of two NCAA Division I programs. Vincent Kibunja has led the team with three top-seven individual finishes, including the second-fastest time in program history last Saturday.

Goshen has appeared in the NAIA top 25 on five occasions since the archiving of week-by-week polls began in 2001: the team’s best placing was 17th on October 15, 2014, the year the Maple Leafs made their inaugural full-team trip to the national meet.

GC returns to action Friday night at the Bethel College Invitational, a meet whose field includes both of the conference schools ranked ahead of the Maple Leafs. The men’s race will start at 5:45 p.m. at St. Patrick’s County Park in South Bend, with the women’s race beginning the evening at 5:00.

Goshen College is an affordable, nationally-ranked Christian liberal arts college in Northern Indiana known for leadership in intercultural and international education, sustainability and social justice.

The Maple Leafs compete in 14 varsity sports in the NAIA’s highly competitive Crossroads League and Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference, continuing a tradition of intercollegiate athletics that dates to 1956 and included women’s competition nearly a decade before Title IX. For more information on GC athletics, visit www.GoLeafs.net and follow the Maple Leafs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @GCMapleLeafs.