even and a half minutes into the race, sophomore Joshua Mirth was trapped in the middle of the field – about 90th in the race. A mile later, he was All-American.
“He gobbled 50 spots between the mile and I think the two mile mark,” assistant coach R.P. White said.
Officially, sophomore Joshua Mirth won All American when he crossed the finish line in 31st place at the NCAA Division II National Meet on Nov. 17 in Joplin, Mo. But by three miles into the race, he had put himself into position.
“At that point I was about 38th,” Mirth said. “Then it was ‘hang onto this spot and see if I can pass anyone else.’ I got seven more spots.”
Mirth was the sole runner to represent Hillsdale College at the national meet this year. He individually qualified at the regional meet in Kenosha, Wisc., on Nov. 3. There the men’s team placed 9th and the women’s team placed 6th – just 15 points out of the qualifying 5th place.
The last male Hillsdale cross country runner to be All-American was senior Tim Jagielski in 2008.
“Genetically, physically, Mirth is probably one of the most talented athletes out there as far as the races we ran,” White said. “He belongs up in the top part of the race.”
Senior Micah Chelimo of University of Alaska Anchorage individually won the men’s 10,000 meter race in 28:56. Senior Alicia Nelson from Adams State University won the women’s 6000-meter in 20:03.
Mirth finished in 30:10, which would have been a personal record by more than a minute if the course had actually been 10,000 meters long. It was between 300 and 400 meters short, Mirth said.
Both White and Forino accompanied Mirth to Missouri for the race. Forino said he was impressed with how comfortable and calm Mirth was with his first national race.
“I wasn’t particularly more nervous beforehand than any other race, really,” Mirth said. “Not a whole lot of pressure on me: I’m there by myself, I’m a sophomore. No one expects that much from me.”
For the team scores, Adams State University won with 34 points. Grand Valley State University won the women’s race with 101 points. In total, 10 GLIAC runners were named All-American.
The Hillsdale College distance runners are now preparing for indoor track season – and looking forward to next fall. White said that with the men’s team developing as it is, and with the addition of a few freshmen, Hillsdale has a good shot of sending Mirth to next year’s national meet with his teammates.
“We’ll be disappointed if we don’t make nationals next year,” Forino said.