Brunnette finishes 25th in National Championship meet
ELSAH, Ill. – Junior Sam Brunnette (Newport, Vt.) finished in 25th place at the NCAA Division III Men's Cross Country National Championships at Principia College on Saturday to earn All American status. He becomes the first Panther cross country runner to earn the national honor.
"I felt myself in the 30s at one point," said Brunnette, "and I said to myself, 'you are NOT going any farther back!'"
Brunnette finished the 8K race in a time of 24:48.83, just six seconds off the pace of his personal best 24:42.5 achieved during the Little East Conference Championships three weeks ago.
"Sam ran brave, smart and most importantly, gritty," said head coach John Ostler. "He refused to yield an All American spot. I could tell early in the race that he didn't look like his normal effortless self. Getting 25th today is a testament to his guile. He faced a couple hard points in the race where he could have settled and fallen into the bulk of the race, but each time he answered the bell and kept grinding to stay in the top 40."
The All America honors cap an incredible season for the junior. After winning the individual title at the NCAA Division III New England Region Championships last week, he was named the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association New England Runner of the Year. He was the first LEC runner to win a regional title since 2001.
Brunnette earned LEC Runner of the Year honors after defending his Little East individual title in record time. He was the conference's first repeat champion since 2008-2009, while becoming the seventh runner in league history to win back-to-back conference titles.
He finishes the season with four individual titles, a runner up, a ninth place and a 25th place finish on cross country's biggest stage.
"An All American award is such a great distinction," added Ostler. "He's proud of himself and the entire Plymouth community is proud of him too. He felt that support and it helped today."
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