Uzelac, Benjamin lead men's cross country to fifth-place finish

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JOPLIN, Mo. -- Sophomore Josh Uzelac nearly kept the same pace he posted two weeks ago and contributed a top-10 finish to power the John Brown University men's cross country team to a fifth-place finish at the 8,000-kilometer Missouri Southern State Stampede on Saturday (Sept. 17) morning.

Uzelac's time of 26:44.06 landed him a ninth-place finish, crossing the line 1:26 behind the individual champion, Cale Eidson. The top-10 finish for Uzelac was just three seconds slower than in his 7,800-kiloemeter race two weeks ago at the Southwest Baptist University Invatational.

Grabbing the 15th spot and also just three seconds off his previous 7,800-kilometer time was sophomore Jacob Benjamin, who turned in a 27:02.70 time. Uzelac and Benjamin have finished 1-2 for the Golden Eagles in both races this season.

In the collegiate results, Highland C.C. (Kan.) captured the team title with 86 points while Baker (Kan.) finished with a 106 score. Kansas Wesleyan grabbed third place and Cowley C.C. (Kan.) finished fourth with 111 and 113 points, respectively. The John Brown score of 171 beat out nine other NAIA programs in the race.

"Another solid race from all of our men," admitted head coach Scott Schochler. "Josh continues his consistently strong performances, running in the top 10 all race long and setting the tone for the rest of team. Jacob is learning how to run in the front couple of groups at races. Elliott (Pearson) Continues to impress as a freshman who is unafraid to race fast. Michael (Games) and Levi (Nordemeyer) both had solid races to round out our scoring.

"We have been having our men start races a little easier than they are used to, but from now on they are going to be aggressive through the entire race. This is a strong group that has still not reached its full potential."

Freshman Elliott Pearson took 43rd overall at 28:13.10 while sophomore Michael Games nabbed 57th in a 28:26.58 timeframe. Senior Levi Nordmeyer crossed the line at 28:28.89 and earned 59th overall.

The Golden Eagles return to action on Saturday (Oct. 1) at Experimental Farms on the campus of the University of Arkansas. JBU will take part in the annual Chile Pepper Festival, beginning at 9:45 a.m.

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