In just his second season at the helm of the Harper College men's cross country team, Jim Macnider guided the Hawks to the program's second straight NJCAA Division III title Saturday on the campus of SUNY-Delhi.
The Hawks placed four runners in the top 20, including individual champion Troy Cunningham.
"I'm extremely fortunate to have the coaching staff I have," Cunninham said, referring to Macnider. "(He's) part of the reason I chose to come to Harper."
Macnider, meanwhile, was pleased to see his team, and especially Cunningham, reach their potential.
"He ran just like we thought he would," Macnider said of Cunningham. "We were all pretty confident (going into the race)."
The national championship didn't exactly come as a surprise to the eventual winner.
"I knew I was ready," Cunningham said.
Cunningham felt something special was happening during the race when he heard the announcer call the name of a teammate, Colin Weber (Wheeling). Both runners earned All-Amercian honors.
According to Cunningham, it was not a suprise that the two former MSL runners earned national recognition.
"The MSL can bring some good runners (to college programs)," he said.
The individual championship marks the second major win for Cunningham this season. Two weeks prior, he captured the regional crown.
The Hawks bided their time befor making a collective move to win the race at nationals.
"It was by plan," Macnider said of the team's deliberate start. "We talked about being conservative at the beginning."
With the understanding that it would pay dividends at the end.
"We finish hard," Cunningham said.
The terrain also played a role in how Cunningham approached his race.
"I knew the hills were going to be a challenge," he said. "I was able to use the flat area to make some moves and use my speed," he said.
Cunningham has now won three national chamionship with the Hawks -- two in cross country, and one last spring in men's track and field.
Women's soccer team fits in at nationals: The Harper College (7-12-0) women's soccer team went 1-2 at the recently completed NJCAA Divsion III national tournament.
The Hawks scored first in two of the three games in Dryden, N.Y., the exception being Sunday's 2-1 loss in the fifth-place game to Holyoke Community College (Mass.).
"We love to score goals," said Hawks coach Dwayne Cruz. "They played outstanding."
Of the eight tournament participants, Harper was the only unranked team.
Cruz said his players make their own statement about Harper's absence from the polls: "They proved a point -- we were supposed to be there."
Sophomore defender Devan Swank (Fremd) had 2 goals and 2 assists over the three games to earn all-tournament team honors.
"She had a great weekend, she stepped it up," Cruz said.
Harper's game one foe, Gloucester County Community College, advanced to the title game where it was defeated 4-1 by top-ranked Mohawk Valley (21-1-1).
Gloucester's run to the championship game wasn't a surprise to Cruz.
"Everbody was so even, it didn't suprise me," he said.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.