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Gay runner helps team win NCAA cross country trophy

LGBT College Roundup: EJ Proctor, Duke headed to women’s soccer Final Four

Amherst College junior Tucker Meijer holds the trophy after he helped his team finish fourth at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships.
Erik Hall

ELSAH, Illinois — Midway through his 8-kilometer race at the NCAA cross country national championships, Tucker Meijer picked up his pace. The Amherst College junior estimates he passed 30 runners the final 4 kilometers.

He finished 112th, and those 30 runners he passed moved the Amherst Mammoths into fourth place as a team.

“We heard that it was unofficial at first, and a lot of us couldn’t believe it. We were like, ‘There’s no way we’re going to stay in fourth,’” said Meijer, who is gay. “Then our coach came up to us and said, ‘You guys got fourth,’ and we all went crazy. We just started cheering and chanting and hugging each other.”

Amherst, with 251 points, beat Washington University by 18 points for fourth place, the final position awarded a team trophy Nov. 18 at the NCAA Division III Cross Country National Championships in the St. Louis suburb of Elsah, Illinois. In seven previous trips to nationals, Amherst’s best result was ninth place.

The 5-foot-8, 140-pound Meijer finished as the team’s No. 5 runner in 25 minutes, 34.18 seconds. The race marked a comeback for him after running at nationals as a freshman but missing the 2016 meet after injuries derailed his sophomore season.

“Just being here, the environment is super awesome,” said Meijer, whose hometown is Mountain View, California. “There are people everywhere, so it’s a pretty electric environment.”

Meijer was one of at least three gay athletes running at the NCAA meet with Pomona-Pitzer senior Nick Vucovich and Middlebury College junior Harrison Knowlton.

Middlebury College junior Harrison Knowlton (left) and Pomona-Pitzer senior Nick Vucovich at the NCAA Division III Cross Country National Championships on Nov. 18 in Elsah, Illinois.
Erik Hall

Vucovich talked publicly about being gay earlier this year. Meijer and Knowlton have been out as gay on social media, but this marks the first time they are talking publicly about their sexuality.

“It’s good that there are more and more cross country runners, and athletes in general, that are coming out,” said Vucovich, who finished 200th of 279 runners in 26:06.2 and helped Pomona-Pitzer finish sixth as a team.

Vucovich, Meijer and Knowlton bemoaned the weather conditions. In the hour before the men’s race, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees — from mid-60s to mid-40s — as a storm rolled in across the Mississippi River.

“I ran pretty good,” said the 5-foot-11, 160-pound Vucovich, his team’s No. 7 runner at nationals. “The weather was tough. … It was really windy.”

The 6-foot, 155-pound Knowlton ran his race in 25:47.48. He finished 156th overall and fourth on his team as Middlebury took 15th. Knowlton, his team’s top runner Oct. 28 at its conference meet, battled calf and hamstring tightness in recent weeks.

“It didn’t go that well for me,” said Knowlton, whose hometown is Turner, Maine. “I’m really happy with how our team did, so overall, it’s a good day.”

Knowlton’s team-first attitude reflects his bond with teammates — a constant through Knowlton revealing that he’s gay by email to his teammates during the summer after his freshman year.

“I’m the only gay man on my team,” Knowlton said. “I’m treated just like everyone else. They all think of me as their brother. I think of them as my brothers.”

Meijer, who started coming out as gay as a junior in high school, has been open with teammates about his sexuality throughout his Amherst career.

“They’ve been really, really great,” Meijer said. “They’re just so supportive and accepting. I’m really lucky.”

While Meijer reflected on his luck, on the ground at his feet sat the NCAA fourth-place trophy — a payoff for passing 30 runners and for much more than 4 kilometers of effort.

“He’s the kind of athlete and the kind of guy that you just wish you had an entire team of Tuckers,” Amherst cross country coach Cassie Funke-Harris said. “He brings a lot of really great energy and enthusiasm to practice, but he also works super, super hard and cares a lot about his teammates.”

Tucker Meijer can be found on Instagram @TuckerMeijer or Twitter @TuckerMeijer. Harrison Knowlton can be found on Instagram @RunnerBoy97 or Twitter @RunnerBoy97. Nick Vucovich can be found on Instagram @NickVuc.

Names in bold are people that have announced publicly they identify as LGBT. Results are for competitions that took place Nov. 13-26.

Division I

Schuyler Bailar (junior, Harvard men’s swimming) and David Pfeiffer (senior, Harvard men’s diving) were part of the Crimson’s dual meet win against Columbia on Nov. 17. Pfeifer took fourth on both 1-meter and 3-meter springboard with scores of 288.3 and 313.05 points, respectively. Bailar competed in two exhibition races, and he swam the 100-yard butterfly in 52.72 seconds.

Simon Carne (senior, Drexel men’s diving) and Anthony Musciano (sophomore, Drexel men’s diving) helped the Dragons win the Patriot Invitational on Nov. 16-18. Carne took second on 3-meter springboard (284.05 points) and tied for third on 1-meter (258.2). Musciano finished second on 1-meter (270.9) and third on 3-meter (250.85). On Friday, Musciano was named CAA Diver of the Week for his success at the Patriot Invitational.

Taylor Emery (junior, Virginia Tech women’s basketball) scored a season-high 25 points, with a 15-point third quarter, to go with four rebounds as the Hokies (5-2 overall) beat Drexel 79-67 on Nov. 23 in the Paradise Jam, where Emery was named to the tournament all-star team. The last two weeks, Emery scored at least 20 points in four games as Virginia Tech went 4-2.

Aidan Faminoff (sophomore, Florida State men’s diving) took second on the platform (374.85 points), seventh on 1-meter springboard (318.35), and 14th on 3-meter (277.0) at the Georgia Tech Invitational on Nov. 16-18. “Aidan was the star today,” FSU diving coach John Proctor said of Faminoff’s platform performance in a press release. “When he’s in shape, he gets his confidence, and it’s really fun to watch him perform.”

Scott Frantz (redshirt sophomore, Kansas State football) started at left tackle the last two weeks as the Wildcats (7-5 overall, 5-4 Big 12) closed the regular season with wins against Oklahoma State and Iowa State. Frantz, No. 74, provided a key block to give Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson more time on the final play to throw a touchdown pass to beat Iowa State 20-19. The Wildcats will learn their bowl destination Dec. 3.

Dylan Geick (freshman, Columbia wrestling) did not compete in meets Nov. 18 and 19. He said on Instagram on Nov. 14 that he is currently out with a “minor injury.”

Connor Griffin (junior, Fordham men’s swimming) finished 22nd in the 400-yard individual medley (4 minutes, 18.48 seconds) for the best finish of his four individual events at the Bucknell Invitational on Nov. 17-19.

Bree Horrocks (redshirt junior, Vanderbilt women’s basketball) played in four of six games the last two weeks as the Commodores (1-6 overall) went 1-5 for Stephanie White (head coach, Vanderbilt women’s basketball). Horrocks scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds in her four games.

My-King Johnson (freshman, Arizona football), who is redshirting this season, saw the Wildcats (7-5 overall, 5-4 Pac-12) finish the regular season with a 42-30 loss to Arizona State. Arizona will learn its bowl destination Dec. 3.

John Kim (redshirt senior, VMI men’s swimming) broke his school record in the 100-yard backstroke by completing the race in 51.58 seconds on Nov. 15 at Loyola. He won that and the 200 freestyle (1:48.10) at Loyola. On Nov. 14, Kim was named the America East Swimmer of the Week for his performances the previous Saturday.

EJ Proctor (senior, Duke women’s soccer) recorded two saves as Duke beat Baylor 4-0 in Friday’s NCAA Quarterfinal. It marked Proctor’s 13th shutout of the season and the 34th in her career — both marks that tie program records. She also recorded a shutout of Texas in the Round of 16 (3-0 win Nov. 19) and split time in goal against Oklahoma State in the Round of 32 (7-0 win Nov. 17). Proctor and Duke (23-2 overall) advance to face UCLA on Dec. 1 in the College Cup Semifinals, which are scheduled to be broadcast on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Jack Thorne (junior, Northwestern men’s swimming) helped the Wildcats win the six-team TYR Invitational on Nov. 17-19. He competed in eight events, and his best finish was second place on the 200-yard medley relay. His best individual results were third-place finishes in the 50 backstroke (23.07 seconds) and 100 backstroke (49.06 seconds). Jesse Moore (assistant coach, Northwestern women’s swimming) watched the Wildcats set seven pool records on their way to winning the women’s team title at the TYR Invitational on Nov. 17-19.

Wayne Zhang (senior, Yale men’s diving) finished 27th in 1-meter and 3-meter springboard with 212.1 and 211.25 points, respectively, at the Ohio State Invitational on Nov. 17-19.

Drew Davis (assistant coach, Creighton women’s volleyball) saw the No. 17-ranked Bluejays (25-6 overall) capture the Big East tournament championship Saturday with a five-set win against Marquette. It’s the fourth consecutive Big East tournament title for Creighton. On Nov. 18, Creighton captured the Big East regular season title outright with a five-set win at Georgetown to finish 16-2 in the league. On Sunday, Creighton received the No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament, and the Bluejays will host Coastal Carolina on Dec. 1.

James Finley (head coach, Seattle women’s volleyball) ended the season with a three-set loss to CSU Bakersfield in the opening round of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament on Nov. 16. The Redhawks finish 11-17 overall.

Patrick Jeffrey (diving coach, Stanford men and women) saw Stanford women’s divers finish third and fifth on 1-meter springboard, men’s divers grab fourth and sixth place on 3-meter, women’s divers take fifth and seventh on platform, and men’s diver Theodore Miclau win the platform at the 11-team Adamson Invitational hosted by Texas A&M on Nov. 16-18.

Shawn McLaughlin (assistant coach, Incarnate Word women’s volleyball) faces an uncertain future as Jen Montoya resigned as Incarnate Word women’s volleyball head coach on Nov. 20.

Lee-J Mirasolo (assistant coach, Harvard women’s hockey) saw the Crimson (5-3-1 overall) go 2-2 the last two weeks. Harvard’s game against Princeton on Dec. 2 is scheduled to be broadcast on NESN at 4 p.m. ET.

Division II

Noah Ratliff (junior, Mercyhurst men’s water polo) recorded a steal in the Lakers’ (11-13 overall) season-ending loss to Gannon on Nov. 19 at the Mid-Atlantic Championships. In the champioships’ seventh-place game, Gannon defeated Mercyhurst 13-12 in triple overtime.

DJ Slifer (assistant coach, Texas A&M-Kingsville women’s basketball) saw the Javelinas (3-4 overall) twice hit game-winning shots in the final 20 seconds to go 3-2 the last two weeks. On Nov. 14, Angelica Wilson hit a shot with 10 seconds to go that beat St. Mary’s 48-46, and on Nov. 21, Ope Ibrahim hit a shot with 19.6 seconds left to give Kingsville a one-point lead on the way to a 46-43 win against Texas A&M International.

Division III

Alec Donovan (redshirt sophomore, Centenary wrestling) lost a 7-6 decision in the 165-pound title bout to finish 4-1 at the Doug Parker Invitational on Nov. 18.

NAIA

Darrion McAlister (senior, Marian football) received All-Mid-States Football Association Mideast League First-Team honors as an offensive lineman on Nov. 17. He was one of three Marian offensive linemen and seven total Marian players named to the all-conference first team.

NJCAA

Lexie Gerson (assistant coach, Harcum women’s basketball) saw the Bears (2-3 overall) go 1-1 the last two weeks with an 82-51 win against Mercer on Nov. 18.

Layne Ingram (head coach, Lansing women’s basketball) dropped a pair of games the last two weeks — one loss to Mott Community College and one to St. Clair County Community College.

Erik Hall can be reached via email at hallerik7@gmail.com or on Twitter @HallErik or on Facebook. If you are an out LGBT athlete or coach and want your accomplishments recognized, please email Erik.