ELSAH, Ill. – Senior Matt Hall closed his outstanding cross country career by finishing eighth out of 332 individuals to earn a second-straight NAIA All-American honor, while the Taylor men claimed 18th-of-37 teams at the NAIA National Championships on Saturday.
Hall ran a career-best time of 24:47.9 on the North Farms Cross Country Course to repeat as an NAIA Cross Country All-American, while improving on his 12th-place finish from 2015 and 52nd-place showing in 2014. Hall was the top finisher from the Crossroads League and was TU's top finisher for the 18th-straight race.
Junior Stephen Cho also ran the fastest time of his career and turned in his best finish in three appearances at NAIA Nationals. Cho crossed at 25:52.1 to finish 76th after scoring back-to-back 130th-place outings in 2015 and 2014.
Tanner Dye closed his collegiate cross country career with a time of 26:05.2 to claim 110th overall. Dye joined Hall and Cho in turning in his best time and finish on the Nationals stage, after taking 147th with a time of 26:34.9 one year ago.
Sophomore Benjamin Byrd and senior Aaron Scott rounded out Taylor's scoring, as Byrd crossed in 139th with a time of 26:16.8 in his first showing at Nationals, while Scott took 220th in his third trip to Nationals with a time of 26:52.4.
As a team, Taylor posted a time of 129:54.4 and claimed 426 points to secure a third-straight finish inside the top-20 at the NAIA National Championships. Saturday's time was TU's second-fastest under Vanderberg.
The trio of Hall, Cho and Dye became the first three individuals to finish inside the top-110 in the same race at Nationals, while Hall and Cho also became the first duo to finish inside the top-100 under fourth-year head coach Lance Vanderberg.
Thomas Jackson of Bacone won the individual crown with a time of 23:50.2 and Southern Oregon claimed the team title with 122 points and a time of 126:44.9.
The race marked Taylor's third-straight season with a finish between 15th and 19th at the NAIA National Championships. During those three seasons Taylor has finished among the top-three at the Crossroads League Championships, while posting a regular season record of 242-45.
The Trojans went 81-15 during the 2016 regular season, climbed as high as No. 8 in the NAIA Top-25 Poll for their loftiest rating since 2000 and ran the four-fastest times of Vanderberg's tenure at the helm of the program.
Taylor will graduate Matt Hall, Tanner Dye, Aaron Scott and Jordan Florian from the 2016 roster but is set to return 18-of-22 student-athletes for 2017, including four-of-seven competitors from the 2016 National Championships lineup. That unit should be further aided by the healthy return of Joseph Beamish, who was TU's second-best finisher in each of the first four races this season.