The Bryan College Lions cross country teams hosted the AAC Cross Country Championships Saturday morning. It was a cool morning as the sun rose over Fort Bluff Camp, and the perfect weather helped propel the men's team to successfully defend their title and move their win streak to 5 in a row. This was their 6th win in 7 years.
The Lions put on a dominating display, with Bryan athletes as the first 3 runners across the finish line. Senior Anthony Simpson blitzed the Lion's home course in 24:12, setting a personal and course record in the process. This was his 2nd individual championship in a row, and he was named the AAC Men's Runner of the Year. He was followed closely by two fellow Lions in Connor Hatfield and Alex Stephens in 24:19 and 24:21. They also ran faster than they ever have before, with their performance coming at the right time. Senior Jason McLeod was the 4th Lion across, finishing 7th overall in 25:00. The 5th scorer was Freshman Tyler Boone, who was 12th overall in 25:23. Following closely was Madison Yates in 25:57 and Jacob Shelton in 26:46 and Matt Jenkins in 28:14.
The Lions beat NAIA #18 Tennessee Wesleyan, scoring 25 points to their 57. Milligan College was 3rd with 68 points.
"The successes these men have had was justly earned," said Coach Harper. "The commitment and dedication has paid off, and they are reaping the rewards. Simpson has been on fire this season, and for him and the team to defend their titles was a great result for our Conference championship. The great thing about this team is that we have a tremendous pack of 4. McLeod had an off day, but will be ready to race in two weeks and will be right with the men that went 1 through 3. Boone has come a long way since he left high school, and has become a great threat for other teams at Nationals. We have 2 weeks to sharpen up and let loose at Nationals on the 23rd."
Anthony Simpson, Connor Hatfield, Alex Stephens and Jason McLeod won AAC All-Conference Awards for their performances. Tyler Boone was named to the AAC All-Freshman team. Coach Bryson Harper was named the AAC Coach of the Year for the second year in a row.
The Lions now move on to the NAIA Cross Country National Championships in Lawrence, Kan., on November 23. The meet will be hosted on the historic Rim Rock Farms Cross Country Course. Follow the team's preparation, travel and results on Twitter at @BryanTFXC.