LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Stevenson University senior Patrick Watson became the first student-athlete in school history to capture an NCAA individual national championship as he finished first at the NCAA Division III Men's Cross Country Championship Saturday at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park. Watson bested a field of 279 competitors with an 8K time of 24:13.9. He outdistanced second place Matthew Wilkinson of Carleton College by 5.7 seconds.
Watson ran the opening kilometer in 3:02.1 and was fifth, then moved up to third at the 3K mark. He overtook Wilkinson and Tyler Nault of Wisconsin-La Crosse in the fourth kilometer, running 12:20.5 through four kilometers. At the final split at 6.4 kilometers Watson extended his lead in the soggy conditions over Wilkinson to nearly four seconds, and was never challenged the rest of the way.
MXC | HE DID IT! @StevensonTFXC senior Patrick Watson is your NATIONAL CHAMPION winning with an unofficial time of 24:13.4! First individual national title in school history! #d3xc #MACxc #StangNation pic.twitter.com/DvjW17YV9o— Stevenson University Mustangs �� (@GoMustangSports) November 23, 2019
Watson was making his third trip to the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships. He finished 70th in his inaugural trip in 2017, then earned All-America honors last season with a 15th-place finish.
The national championship caps a year for Watson in which he has been dominant, winning all but one of the eight events in which he competed. After finishing fourth at the season-opening Mount St. Mary's Duals, a meet comprised of primarily Division I athletes, he won the final seven events, including impressive wins in the Middle Atlantic Conference Championship and last week's NCAA Mideast Regional.
Watson is the third Middle Atlantic Conference runner to win the men's cross country national championship. Seamus McElligott won in 1990, while Widener's Macharia Yuot won in 2006.
The NCAA national championship is the second in Stevenson's 26-year history of NCAA athletics. The Mustang men's lacrosse team captured the 2013 Division III national title.