LANCASTER, Pa. - The 26th annual Centennial Conference men's cross country championship takes place this Saturday at Haverford College. The defending champion Fords may need to invoke their home-course advantage to extend their championship streak to five.
Haverford has won four consecutive Centennial titles and 22 of the previous 25. The Fords are ranked fourth nationally, according to the most recent USTFCCCA poll, but will be challenged by Johns Hopkins, who comes in at No. 6 this week. Joining the two top-10 teams in the chase for the championship is No. 24 Dickinson.
Could this be the tightest meet in Centennial history? The smallest winning margin in the history of the meet is the five points that separated Johns Hopkins (34) and Dickinson (39) in 2013, while nine points were between Haverford (34) and the Blue Jays (43) in 2016.
Twelve of the top 14 runners from a year ago are back, looking to repeat as All-Conference selections. Haverford welcomes back three first-teamers (top 7) and two second-teamers (places 8-14), led by senior Ryan Herlihy who finished third last season and has finished in the top seven two straight years. A top-seven finish would make him the 16th runner in Conference history to earn first-team All-Centennial honors three times.
Classmates Graham Peet and Dylan Gearinger were second and fifth in 2017, while junior Sam McCalpin and senior Greg Morgan took 10th and 11th. Peet, the Mideast Regional Athlete of the Year, and Herlihy went onto to finish 1-3 at the regional event.
Johns Hopkins brings back three All-Conference runners from a year ago - seniors Scott Pourshalchi (6th) and Oliver Hickson (8th), along with sophomore Jared Pangallozzi (13th) - the 2017 Centennial Rookie of the Year. Pourshalchi finished fifth in the region.
Dickinson is led by junior Bryce Descavish (7th) and senior Eric Herrmann (9th). Muhlenberg senior Corey Mullins (4th) is the lone runner not a member of the top three that earned All-CC honors last year.
Swarthmore is the only team to break into the top three since 2007, taking third in 2011. Keep an eye on junior Vaughn Parts and sophomore Kevin Hudson who could crack the top 15. Others to watch include Franklin & Marshall senior Spencer Lyman, Gettysburg sophomore Dylan McKeever, McDaniel senior Gavin Gibson, Muhlenberg junior Jason Richwall and Ursinus junior James McDaid.