Men's Cross Country Team Nabs National Title

Members of the Harper College's men's cross country team started their last meet of the season as contenders. They finished - for the first time ever - as national champions.

The Hawks beat out 20 other schools Saturday morning to clinch the NJCAA title in Springfield, Mass. It is Harper's first championship in that sport.

The team easily beat out State University of New York-Delhi, which had claimed the seven previous titles.

"These men went out there and ran their hearts out, and we're so pleased with their performance and proud of the way they represented Harper at a national competition," Director of Athletics Doug Spiwak said. "Harper has a long history of winning in multiple sports, and it's a great feeling to add this title to our collection."

Harper went into the weekend meet ranked No. 2 nationally in its division. Pablo Ramirez of Schaumburg led the Hawks' charge on the 5-mile course with a fourth-place finish and a first-team All-America nod, besting defending national champion Ozzie Huerta of Gloucester County Community College in a sprint to the finish line. Francisco Soto of Palatine finished seventh with a second-team All-America recognition and Ryan Wojdyla of Palatine finished fourteenth as an honorable mention All-America selection. Other Hawks finishers included Steve Heer of Rolling Meadows, Troy Cunningham of Elk Grove Village and Thomas Johnson of Lake Zurich.

The team, alongside first-year Coach James Macnider, will be honored formally for its title at the Harper College Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, November 16 in the Wojcik Conference Center on the main campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine. Harper President Dr. Kenneth Ender, an avid runner and marathoner, will be among those congratulating the team.

The win brings Harper's overall national championship count to 13; the Hawks also have earned titles four times each in wrestling and men's track, three times in football and one time in women's track. 

Press Contacts: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist; Doug Spiwak, Director of Athletics.