Where Your Dreams Become Reality
2007 LetsRun.com NCAA Women's Cross Country Recap: Stanford Threepeats, Sally Kipyego Dominates
Sally Kipyego of Texas Tech and the Stanford women were heavy favorites heading into Monday's NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana. Kipyego because she has destroyed the field in every collegiate race she has run since joining the collegiate ranks except when she's doubling (anyone remember Michelle Sikes' stunning upset in the 5k last year on the track?) and Stanford because they had won the last two straight NCAA titles and had 5 seniors back from last year's team. Both Kipyego and Stanford left Terre Haute with their coveted NCAA titles, although Kipyego was the only one to dominate.
Kipyego was with the field at 2k, but by 4k she had opened up a comfortable 11 second lead over Big 12 rival, Jenny Barringer. Kipyego extended the lead the final 2k for a comfortable 17 second victory. Barringer, who won the USATF steeple title last year, was a very strong 2nd, 10 seconds up of Florida State's Susan Kuijken, who was 10 seconds up on Iowa's Diane Nukuri. Kipyego finished 43 seconds up on 5th place finisher Nicole Bush of Michigan State. Pretty damn impressive.
Stanford Survives Again
While Kipyego was cruising to the team title, Peter Tegen's Stanford squad was in a strong position to three peat as team champions throughout the race. Unlike the #1 ranked Oregon Ducks on the men's side, Stanford had faced the best in the nation multiple times this year (pre NCAAs, Pac 10s (4 teams in the top 8 in the country are from the Pac 10), and Regionals (same 3 other top 10 teams)) and come out on top each time.
At 2k and 4k, Stanford was comfortably in front of its Pac 10 rivals. Arianna Lambie was leading the Stanford charge throughout, but she was shadowed by her teammate and West Region champ Teresa McWalters at 2k. At 5k, Lambie was in 5th and McWalters was still in a good spot in 10th and it looked like The Cardinal were cruising to yet another team title. Things got interesting very quickly, however, when McWalters complete fell apart the during the final stretch. She staggered and fell on the homestretch and there was a possibility she may not finish. Some began to think the impossible. Could this cost Stanford the threepeat?
No. First of all, McWalters gutted it out to cross the line to finish as Stanford's fifth woman in 62nd place which was good enough to give Stanford a 32 point win over Oregon. And even if McWalters had not finished, Stanford's 6th and 7th (Lindsay Allen and Kate Niehaus) both would have been good enough to give Stanford the crown. A total team performance. Some might try to point out that this was the 2nd time in three years that a heavily favored Stanford team managed did not dominate, but in our mind a 3 peat is a 3 peat!!
Vin Lananna's Oregon Ducks finished 2nd to Stanford just as they had at the Pac 10s. While Bill Bowerman was a legendary coach at Oregon, he created a tradition of success on the men's side. In three quick year's, Lananna is showing perhaps he may do something that Bowerman did not even do, create dominant programs for both sexes.
Arizona State finished 4th and Washington 8th to give the Pac 10, 4 teams in the top 8.
Disappointment for Princeton and Colorado A school with 0 scholarships (but great financial aid) finishing 14th place usually wouldn't be a disappointment, but the Princeton women had set the NCAAs on fire all year. They were surprise winners at the PreNCAA meet and were coming in expected by many to finish in the top 5 and were ranked #4. Yet the Tigers finished 14th place. (At one point according to the scoreboard early in the race they were in 4th). Not a lot separated the women's teams this year as their was a ton of parity, as only 92 points separated 5th place from 16th place. Princeton was very unfortunate in the fact that #1 runner Liz Costello collapsed near the finishline (she went from top 30 to finishing 7th to last) and cost the Tigers around 85 points. If not for the collapse, the Tigers would have finished in 5th, possibly 6th place. Being in the Ivy League ourselves (Rojo coaches at Cornell) we'd have liked to see the Tigers finish in the top 5. The good news for the Tigers, they have everyone back next year, so don't be surprised to see them in the thick of things next year as well.
The Colorado women won the Big 12s again this year for Mark Wetmore, but coming into the meet, everyone knew it was an "off" year for the Buffalo as they were only ranked #22. So given their ranking, to see them finish 23rd shouldn't have been a surprise. But for us and many distance running aficionados, it was totally unbelievable to see a Wetmore team finish so far back.
Who would ever think they'd see teams coached by two of the biggest legends in the sport, Wetmore and McDonnell (Arkansas on the men's side), finish 23rd in the same NCAA meet?
It certainly says something to the strength of Wetmore's past squads that one is in total shock when one sees runners wearing CU's black and gold bringing up the rear at NCAAs. 54 runners finished in the 200s at the meet and 3 of them were from Colorado. It really was surprising to see. Wetmore's squad got beat by Big 12 rivals Texas Tech and Baylor. Usually, more so than any other team in the country, one expects Wetmore's teams to peak properly at Nationals. But that didn't happen this year.
Recap: LetsRun.com Men's Recap
*Results: Men's Team Results