Mens’ XC finishes 14th, two runners become All-American


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Pictured, Tyler Johnson running the 8k at NCAA DIII Cross Country Championships

Calvin men’s cross country concluded a successful season with a 14th place finish at the NCAA DIII nationals, headlined by All-American top-40 runs from Jonathan Ellis and Tyler Johnson.

Calvin rolled into Louisville, Kentucky on a hot streak. Earlier in November, the Knights won a 33rd consecutive MIAA title and an NCAA regional title in men’s cross country. It was Calvin’s 21st regional title in the past 24 years. Head coach Brian Diemer was named the Great Lakes Regional Coach of the Year in his 34th campaign at the helm.

The Knights did not start exceptionally well at nationals, battling some sickness and some difficulties out of the box. Johnson and Ellis were able to climb back up through the pack, however, to achieve their All-American goals. “Our coaches always stress how Calvin Knights always finish with heart and with everything we have, and I think Jon and I embodied that same spirit,” Johnson said. 

Ellis has been a leader for the Knights all year long. He won the MIAA Runner of the Week award three times this season as well as the MIAA Most Valuable Runner award at seasons end. He was one of six Knights to win an All-Regional award. His 18th place All-American run clocked in at 24:49 for an 8k course.

The guys on the team consistently told me throughout the season that I could be an All-American and even that I could finish in the top 15 at Nationals,” Ellis said. “It was these words of encouragement that helped me believe in myself, and that’s what propelled me to finish where I did at Nationals.”

“Jonathan is very determined and locked in on his mission,” Diemer said. “He channels his energy in a productive way that allows him to rise to a higher level.”

Johnson has provided senior leadership all year long for the Knights. Johnson set the tone early in the year for the Knights by placing second in the Knight Invite, leading the Knights to the win with a time of 25:11. He was awarded the MIAA Runner of the Week award for that effort. Johnson finished the year on the MIAA first team, the Great Lakes All-Regional team and the All-American team.

Tyler has really developed his toughness over this past year. He has a huge desire to be good and achieve his series of goals, personally and for the team,” Diemer said. This toughness and the achievement of these goals has been a work in progress for Johnson. “I remember coming in as a freshman and looking at our cross-country record-board, seeing the names of all of the All-Americans in school history,” Johnson said. “My coaches and upperclassmen instilled confidence in me that I could put my name up on that list and get my picture upon the All-American wall.”

Overall, despite the team not finishing as high as they hoped, the season was yet another successful one for the Knights.

The Calvin cross-country team is the closest community I have ever been a part of,” Johnson said. “No one thing ever motivates any of us, we all motivate each other because we do a team sport where we have learned to live and die as a pack.