Where Your Dreams Become Reality
STANFORD SWEEPS TEAM TITLES AT 2003 NCAA CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS |
By Mike Scott (c) 2003 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
WATERLOO, Iowa (24-Nov) -- Despite the departure of long-time Cardinal mentor Vin Lananna last June, Stanford's men's and women's teams ignored the cold, blustery conditions to sweep the team titles at the NCAA Division I Men's & Women's Cross Country Championships here today, hosted by the University of Northern Iowa at the Irv Warren Golf Course.
Individual crowns went to North Carolina's Shalane Flanagan, who successfully defended her women's title, while Colorado's Dathan Ritzenhein kept the men's individual title in Boulder for the Buffalos.
With sub-freezing temperatures (21°F) and 25-mph winds (8°F wind chill) at race time, some prognosticators doubted whether Stanford's harriers would falter in the cold weather.
"Everybody has been lobbing comments at us that California guys can't run in the snow and cold," said first year men's head coach Andy Gerard. "My guys were excited by it."
The heavily favored Stanford juggernaut charged to the front at the start of the men's race and controlled the pace for most of the first two-thirds of the 10 km distance. All seven Cardinal runners were within four seconds of the leaders at the 3 km mark, with Ryan Hall, Grant Robison, Ian Dobson, Louis Luchini, Adam Tenforde, and Don Sage still together at 5 km (passed in 14:45) in a tightly bunched lead pack of two-dozen runners that also included Ritzenhein and Eastern Michigan's Gavin Thompson.
Ritzenhein was content to run with the pack for the early stages of the race. "I had a side stitch early and was tense from the weather," he said. "I would have liked to get out and help the pace."
Hall and Ritzenhein started to stretch out the pack during the 8th kilometer, passing the 8 km point in 23:34. The duo --who had also faced off in high school-- continued to battle over the two kilometers with Hall leading Ritzenhein by 10m at 9-K. The pair engaged in a thrilling stretch battle, with Riztenhein only gaining his winning advantage in the final 100 meters.
"This was something I'll never forget," said Ritzenhein, who covered the 10 km course in 29:15 to win his first NCAA harrier title, just one tick in front of Hall. Gavin Thompson claimed third in 29:18, with Stanford's Robison (29:20), Dobson (29:25), and Luchini (29:29) finishing 4-5-6. The Cardinal's Tenforde sealed the team title with a 12th place effort in 29:45, while Sage added insurance, finishing 13th in 29:46.
Stanford's scored 24 points to win by the largest margin in NCAA history: 150 points over second place Wisconsin.
The Cardinal's point total was the second best in NCAA history, with only UTEP's mind-boggling 17-point score better.
"I think what the guys did today speaks for itself," said Coach Gerard. "I couldn't be more proud of them."
While the men's team battle was a blowout, the women's side was a nail-biter. Stanford and Brigham Young traded the top position in the poll all year, with the defending champion Cougars slightly favored the week of the meet.
Defending individual champ Flanagan and top challenger Kim Smith --a New Zealander attending Providence College-- quickly separated themselves from the rest of the field, opening up a 20 meter lead by the first turn just 600 meters into the race.
Shortly after the mile, Flanagan began to assert herself and by two miles of the 6 km course she had already opened 30 meters over Smith, who had a similar margin over her teammate Mary Cullen and Stanford's Alicia Craig, with Stanford's Sara Bei, BYU's Michaela Mannova, and Flanagan's teammate Carol Henry.
Flanagan continued to extend her lead over Smith, while Cullen, Mannova, and Bei battled for third.
Flanagan won in 19:31, just off the course record that she established at the Pre-NCAA meet.
"The win was unbelievable," said Flanagan. "Being a defending champion I felt I had something to prove. I knew she [Smith] was going to be up there; she's a strong competitor."
Smith claimed second in 19:43, while Stanford's Bei finished third in 19:50 just ahead of BYU's Mannova (19:53) and Providence's Cullen (19:53).
The team battle was tight, with Stanford edging BYU 120 to 128
and taking their first women's team title since 1996. Providence College
surprised the field to claim third with 222, ahead of Michigan's 232.
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