Kat Lehman (No. 100) crossed near the lead of a tight group of runners during the 2014 NCAA cross country championships. (Photo by d3photography)

Cross country teams wrap up season at Nationals

A great season for Eastern Mennonite University’s cross country teams came to a close Saturday at the NCAA National Championships. The Royals had three athletes running at the Kings Island Golf Center in Mason, Ohio, marking the first time in EMU history that the program sent multiple qualifiers to the monstrous year-end race.

Women’s runner Kat Lehman (Dover, Ohio/Dover) had the highest individual finish for EMU. She traversed the 6k course in 24:02.2, crossing 202nd out of 275. Besides going to Nationals In her first collegiate season, Lehman was named All-Region, All-ODAC First Team and ODAC Rookie of the Year. She also took ODAC Runner of the Week honors three times.

On the men’s side, seniors Jacob Landis (Sterling, Ill./Sterling) and Ryan Gehman (Millersville, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) completed a roundabout journey on the national stage. The duo were teammates at Hesston College in the fall of 2011 before Gehman went to Montreat the next year. Both men transferred to Eastern Mennonite as juniors in 2013 and wrapped up their cross country eligibility together on Saturday.

Landis had a strong finish and clocked in at 26:03.6 in the talented national field, taking 216th out of 280 runners. Gehman, the South/Southeast Region Athlete of the Year, struggled getting out of the gate and played catch-up the entire race. He crossed in 26:15.8 and took 237th.

Gehman was All-Region, All-ODAC First Team and a three-time ODAC Runner of the Week this fall, while Landis earned All-Region, All-ODAC Second Team and ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Men’s Cross Country Scholar-Athlete honors.

“Even though the results weren’t that great today, this race does not define the season these three runners had,” said Coach Jason Lewkowicz. “I am extremely proud of each of them and how they represented EMU today and all season.”