Nov. 22, 2013
BEAUMONT – Ash Harrell and Matt Johnsen have each put together strong seasons, and on Saturday, the Lamar duo will have a chance to make history as they compete at the NCAA National Championships at the Lavern Gibson National Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind.
“I’m looking forward to it, especially with two individual qualifiers this year,” cross country coach Darren Gauson said. “They’ll each be running in their last collegiate meet, so I expect them to go out there and compete hard. I think they’re going to use each other the way they have the last two meets. They’re very optimistic about what they can do in these conditions, so hopefully it will be a good day for us.”
Johnsen, a 2012 All-American after finishing 33rd in last year’s final meet, is seeking to become the second runner in school history to take home the national honors twice, joining Francis Kasagule, who did it in 2006 and 2007. Johnsen, a senior out of Broulee, Australia, was named Southland Athlete of the Year earlier this month after taking home the conference’s individual title and leading the Lamar men to a seventh team crown in eight years. He finished fifth at last week’s South Central Regional.
Harrell, who missed the entire 2012 season due to an injury, was a revelation for the Cards this season. The Englishman finished second to Johnsen at the conference meet, earning Southland Newcomer of the Year in the process. He was 11th at the regional meet.
If Harrell and Johnsen were to both take home All-American honors, they’d be the first teammates to each earn national honors in the same year in the history of the Southland Conference.
The 2013 NCAA Men’s National Cross Country Championship is slated to start at noon on Saturday.