HANOVER, Ind. – For the first time in school history, the Hanover men's and women's cross country program will send multiple athletes to compete at the NCAA Division III National Championships, which take place in Winneconne, Wisc., Saturday, Nov. 17.
SETTING THE SCENE: The women's and men's national championship races will take place at 11:15 a.m. (CT) and 12:15 p.m. (CT), respectively. The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is set to host the event at Lake Breeze Golf Club. This is the fourth time that the Titans have hosted the national cross country championships, with the other tree occurrences also coming at Lake Breeze Golf Club in 1999, 2011 and 2015.
This year's championship races will feature student-athletes from 109 different institutions, hailing from 27 different states. Each run will be comprised of 32 teams and 280 total competitors.
HISTORY SETTERS: Competing for the Panthers this weekend are men's senior Jacob Hedrick (Memphis, Ind.) and women's freshman Arig Tong (Columbus, Ind.). Hedrick is the first men's runner in program history to qualify for the national championship race. Tong will be the fourth female runner for Hanover to compete at nationals, but she will be the first freshman to do so. The Panthers' last national cross country appearance came from Emily Cochard in 2007. Hedrick and Tong are also the first two runners to qualify for nationals under second year head coach Brady Wells ('83).
HEDRICK HEADS HARRIERS: Jacob Hedrick has been one of the top cross country runners for the Blue and Red during his collegiate career, which is capped with his national championship appearance this weekend. The senior won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference event in late October before placing 18th at the NCAA Division III Regional Championships last weekend, marking the highest individual finish for a men's runner in program history.
Hedrick, the HCAC Most Valuable Runner, has completed an official eight-kilometer race four times this fall, including the conference and regional championships. Heading into the national championships, the senior has posted an average 8K time of 25:54.78 this season. His fastest 8K mark came at the 2017 Greater Louisville Classic, where his time of 25:39.5 was good enough for a first place finish in the race of 400 runners.
TONG TOPS WOMEN'S RUNNERS: Arig Tong has led the Panther women in all six races this season, including last weekend's NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional Championships, where she placed 13th overall. Prior to her regional performance, Tong placed second at the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships, earning her Freshman of the Year honors.
The freshman's past two races have been the only six-kilometer events of her young collegiate career. She posted a time of 22:42.10 at the conference meet before improving to 22:12.18 at the regional championships, as both races were in Shelbyville, Ind. at Blue River Park. Tong enters the final race of the fall with an average 6K time of 22:27.14.
PAST PANTHERS AT NATIONALS: Prior to the 2018 edition, the Panthers have had three women appear at the NCAA Division III National Championships a total of four times. Erin Matson was the first to do so in 2001, as she placed 138th overall in the five-kilometer event. Leah Peelman made back-to-back trips in 2004 and 2005, highlighted by the school's best finish, a seventh-place mark in 2005. Peelman's 6K time of 22:14.0 is the program's fastest at the national meet. As mentioned above, Emily Cochard is the last HC runner to appear at nationals, as she placed 155th in 2007.
Contact: Tyler Jester