2016 NAC Men's Cross Country All-Conference: Bakker, Jackson & Smith Take Top Honors

Castleton's Grandon Smith (Newtown, Ct.) was the first to cross the line at the 2016 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Men's Cross Country Championship, which earned him NAC Runner of the Year. The junior, who finished as the runner-up one season ago (27:26.37), won medalist honors at the 2016 Championship in a time of 26:22.4. Second-place finisher, freshman Peter Bakker (Barkhamsted, Conn.) from Colby-Sawyer, completed the 8k course in 26:29.3, which earned him NAC Rookie of the Year.

In a vote of the conference coaches, UMaine-Presque Isle senior Sully Jackson (Wilton, Maine) was honored as the Senior Scholar Athlete of the Year, Colby-Sawyer head coach Lyndsay Ostler claimed Coach of the Year and eleven men's cross country student-athletes were selected to the Sportsmanship Team to headline the 2016 All-Conference announcement.



Smith has had a great season with the Spartans. He claimed three first-place finishes, including medalist honors at the NAC Championship. After placing second last season, the junior paced the field of 101 runners to the finish line with an impressive time of 26:22. He led Castleton to its highest finish in the NAC Championship since 2013, third overall with 88 points. Prior to the conference championship, he started out the 2016 season with two first-place finishes at the Southern Vermont Invitational (53 runners) and the Castleton Invitational (48 runners). Smith also claimed third place at the Vermont State Meet (74 runners) and the Western New England Invitational (193 runners). In a tough race against Division I, II, and III runners, he placed 34th out of 242 runners at the UMass-Dartmouth Invitational. With Smith leading the pack, Castleton claimed four top-four finishes this season. He was selected as the NAC Runner of the Week four times this season.




Bakker, a four-time NAC Rookie of the Week honoree, finished as the runner-up at the 2016 NAC Championship to help the Colby-Sawyer men's cross country team win its first championship. He has recorded four top-11 finishes this season, including a ninth place out of 99 in his collegiate debut to help Colby-Sawyer win the Roger Williams Invitational. He finished 10th out of 192 runners at the Emmanuel Saints Invitational, where Colby-Sawyer placed third out of 23 institutions. Colby-Sawyer finished a close second at the Keene State Invitational where Bakker finished 11th.



Jackson is being recognized for excelling academically and athletically throughout his undergraduate experience. The Environmental Science major has taken advantage of all of his opportunities in the classroom and in the workforce. The senior presented a poster session at UMaine-Presque Isle University Day on Carbon Sequestration relative to earning carbon credits and is currently working with a professor on assessing nitrogen levels in soils and the resulting yields and viability of potatoes for marketing implications. While on a mission's trip during the summer of 2016, he worked on Florida environmental issues, including Florida's alternate energy policy, farming techniques, jungle encroachment on less advantaged neighborhoods, and studied the impacts of orange and banana epidemics. Jackson has earned USCAA All-Academic Team honors. On the race course he earned four top-25 finishes including eighth out of 72 runners at the Runnin' Monks Invitational, two 12th place finishes at the Husson Invitational (50 runners) and at the NAC Championship (101 runners), and a 23rd place finish out of 107 runners at the Johnson State College Badger Invitational. 



After finishing as the runner-up the past four seasons at the NAC Championships and being tabbed to finish second once again in the preseason coaches' poll, Ostler's squad  made sure that they would change the past. The fifth-year head coach lead her team to a first place finish at the 2016 NAC Championship after scoring 25 points. The Chargers first title was made possible as five Colby-Sawyer runners placed within the top eight. Ostler also saw student-athlete Peter Bakker honored as the Rookie of the Year after finishing second at the Championship, completing the 8k course in 26:29.3, almost 30 seconds faster than the third-place finisher. Prior to the conference championship the Chargers earned three top-three finishes this season including a first place finish out of 11 teams at the Roger Williams Invitational. Colby-Sawyer placed second out of eight teams at the Keene State Invitational and third out of 23 teams at the Emmanuel Saints Invitational.

The medalist and the next seven finishers at the NAC Championship are honored as All-Conference First Team runners, while the next seven are named to the All-Conference Second Team.

Joining Smith and Bakker on the All-Conference First Team were Colby-Sawyer junior Kody Frye (Keene, N.H.), freshman Ben Jones (Enfield, N.H.), and seniors Brandon Legendre (Waterford, Vt.) and Scott Shaw (Norfolk, Conn.), UMaine-Farmington junior Robbie Hollis (Auburn, Maine), and Lyndon senior Ayan Cole (Lyndonville, Vt.). 

Second team honorees include Colby-Sawyer freshman Liam Fleming (Orford, N.H.), sophomore Bruin Smith (Cohoes, N.Y.), and senior Travis Yandow (Franklin, Vt.), UMaine-Farmington freshman Abdi Hassan (Auburn, Maine) and junior Connor Wagner (Bangor, Maine), UMaine-Presque Isle's Jackson, and Thomas freshman Jarrod Ottman (Merrimack, N.H.). 

The NAC Men's Cross Country Sportsmanship Team is reserved for those who have distinguished themselves through demonstrated acts of sportsmanship and ethical behavior. The honorees are individuals who have positively affected the sport culture and environment and whose behavior clearly demonstrates sportsmanship and integrity. The following eleven individuals have been selected to the 2016 Sportsmanship Team, Castleton senior Jonah Lavigne (Essex Junction, Vt.), Colby-Sawyer junior Stephen Bennett (Saugus, Mass.), UMaine-Farmington's Wagner, Green Mountain sophomore Devin Balcacer (Houston, Texas), Husson junior Derek Hawes (Ellsworth, Maine), Johnson State senior Jason Harris (Lyndonville, Vt.), Lyndon sophomore Ben Cornell (Burrilville, R.I.), Maine Maritime junior Anthony Boucher (Byron, Maine), New England College senior Chris Whaley (Baltimore, Vt.), UMaine-Presque Isle junior Saul Nunez (Mapleton, Maine), and Thomas senior Nick Kopf (Hampden, Maine).

2016 NAC Men's Cross Country All-Conference Teams

To view a PDF list of the All-Conference team click HERE

Peter Bakker, Freshman, Colby-Sawyer 
Ayan Cole, Senior, Lyndon 
Kody Frye, Junior, Colby-Sawyer 
Robbie Hollis, Junior, UMaine-Farmington 
Ben Jones, Freshman, Colby-Sawyer 
Brandon Legendre, Senior, Colby-Sawyer 
Scott Shaw, Senior, Colby-Sawyer 
Grandon Smith, Junior, Castleton

Liam Fleming, Freshman, Colby-Sawyer
Abdi Hassan, Freshman, UMaine-Farmington
Sully Jackson, Senior, UMaine-Presque Isle
Jarrod Ottman, Freshman, Thomas
Bruin Smith, Sophomore, Colby-Sawyer 
Connor Wagner, Junior, UMaine-Farmington 
Travis Yandow, Senior, Colby-Sawyer 

Runner of the Year
Grandon Smith, Junior, Castleton
Rookie of the Year
Peter Bakker, Freshman, Colby-Sawyer 
Senior Scholar Athlete of the Year
Sully Jackson, Senior, UMaine-Presque Isle 
Coach of the Year
Lyndsay Ostler, Fifth Season, Colby-Sawyer 

Sportsmanship Team
Devin Balcacer, Sophomore, Green Mountain 
Stephen Bennett, Junior, Colby-Sawyer 
Anthony Boucher, Junior, Maine Maritime 
Ben Cornell, Sophomore, Lyndon*
Jason Harris, Senior, Johnson State
Derek Hawes, Junior, Husson 
Nick Kopf, Senior, Thomas 
Jonah Lavigne, Senior, Castleton 
Saul Nunez, Junior, UMaine-Presque Isle
Connor Wagner, Junior, UMaine-Farmington
Chris Whaley, Senior, New England College 

*Award vacated by Lyndon State and the NCAA Committee on Infractions.