On their path to the NCAA Division II Nationals, veteran leadership and a senior who has enjoyed yet another season of success have boosted the Bulldog mens cross country team.
Over the past four years, Tyler Crossman’s accolades have piled up. He was a member of the All-GLIAC team as both a sophomore and a junior and will be up again for the award this year.
The team was able to step up to finish third in the region, allowing Ferris State to qualify for Nationals for the first time since the program was reinstated in 1999.
The journey for Crossman started near the end of his high school career.
“It was the end of my junior year of high school when I realized that I wanted to train full-time for cross country,” Crossman said.
Crossman has seen the Ferris State mens cross country team go from the bottom of the conference and region to a competitive team that has struck gold and jumped into the National picture.
“I’ve watched this program grow and build,” Crossman said. “I have tried to be a part of the rebuilding process. I just hope I leave my mark here at Ferris.”
Crossman has done just that this season, breaking coach Steve Piccucci’s own record in the 8k by five seconds, finishing with a time of 24:57 at the conference championship where the team finished fourth.
Despite the records and personal success, Crossman remains team oriented while in the spotlight.
“That doesn’t really matter to me,” Crossman said. “I just wanted to see our team do well.”
His effect has been felt by younger teammates in a program he helped build from the ground up. Much of his leadership stemmed from his grit and ability to run when not at 100 percent health.
“He came into this program with the idea of not leaving until he felt like he had built this program,” sophomore teammate Spencer Gerber said. “He leads by example every day at every practice and every race by being purely tough and not giving up.”
Crossman took Gerber under his wing as a freshman last year and described their relationship as teammates as close between the two of them. Not only was Crossman a leader, he was a teacher.
“[Crossman] taught me that sometimes you simply have to race instead of worrying about pacing yourself,” Gerber continued.
Crossman’s impact has been felt, and in the last four years of cross-country, Crossman has put the program first and has effectively put the team on the map.
Crossman will leave the team better off than he found it. Any team oriented leader wishes for nothing more than that. Ferris State mens cross country has Crossman to thank for its future, and that will always bring a smile to his face.
The Bulldogs will head to Joplin, Mo. for the National Championship on Nov. 17.