DEARBORN, Mich. – For a second consecutive season, the University of Michigan-Dearborn men's cross country program will be sending a representative to compete at the NAIA National Championships.
Freshman Ryan Exell will compete for the Wolverines at the event, joining fellow teammate Josh Mussen, who qualified in 2017, as the second men's cross country student-athlete to earn a spot at the event in program history.
"Ryan's been our leader since day one in terms of work ethic, leadership and goal setting," head coach Joe Horka said about Exell, who was named the WHAC Men's Cross Country Newcomer of the Year last week. "He absolutely deserves all the success he's earned throughout the season."
A native of Canton, Mich., Exell has had an exceptional season for the Wolverines. Participating at the first ever event hosted by the Wolverines, Exell led UM-Dearborn in the 5k race, finishing in 16:25 at the Wolverine Twilight. Exell followed up the first race of his college career with a team-leading performance at four other events.
At the 2018 Lansing invite hosted by Lansing Community College, Exell helped lead the Wolverines to their first team title at a collegiate meet. He finished with a school-record performance in the 8k, posting a final time of 25:56.9. It was the first ever under 26-minute performance by any UM-Dearborn student-athlete in an 8k. Exell bested himself one week later, finishing the Jayhawk Invitational hosted by Muskegon Community College in 25:20.25.
After his performance at the Jayhawk Invitational, Exell was named the WHAC Runner of the Week, the first time the honor was given to a UM-Dearborn runner.
"His ceiling is as high as he wants it to be and he can be a top 75 runner in the country," Horka added. "He's had a good couple weeks of practice and he's going to do very well at nationals."
Exell will represent the Wolverines at the 63rd Annual NAIA Men's Cross Country National Championships, with the race set to start at 12:30 pm EST on Friday at Seminole Valley Cross Country Course in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.