By David Monti
November, 17, 2012
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
LOUISVILLE, KY (17-Nov) — After timing problems, two protests and some tears, the women of the University of Oregon and the men of Oklahoma State University were declared NCAA Division I Cross Country Champions here on a crisp, sunny day at E.P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer State Park. Iowa State’s Betsy Saina and Texas Tech’s Kennedy Kithuka won the individual titles.
Saina, a senior who finished ninth in these championships last year, won the 6-Kilometer race in a long sprint against the other two athletes who were favored for victory –Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino and Oregon’s Jordan Hasay– who finished second and third, respectively. The trio had been pulled along in the early kilometers by Cal Poly freshman Laura Hollander who set a fast pace of 6:23 through 2-kilometers. Saina tried to remain patient, and kept a close eye on D’Agostino and Hasay.
“I looked back and I could see Jordan was here and Abbey was here, and I know, like, what they are doing,” Saina told reporters after the race. “I’m just going to wait until, like, the last minute.”
She did just that. In the final 30 meters, she hit her top speed, going through the finish line in 19:27.9. Hasay, clearly exhausted, could not hold off D’Agostino who was credited with second place, although both women were given the same time of 19:28.6.
“I don’t know what else I could have done,” said Hasay who, finished second at these championships last year as a junior by just six tenths of a second. “I was trying to go last and I did, but she just kind of held me off. It sucks, you know, being that close again. Hopefully our team did well.”
They did, but that was not the initial news they received. In the initial cut of the results, Oregon fifth-year senior Alexi Pappas, D’Agostino’s former teammate at Dartmouth, was left out of the results (she finished 8th overall and 3rd in the team scoring). That put Ray Treacy’s Providence College Lady Friars in first place, a result which was announced as official by the public address announcer. The Oregon women huddled with their assistant coach Maurica Powell and wept openly in the recovery tent.
About 20 minutes later, after a protest by Oregon head coach Robert Johnson, Pappas was added back to the results, giving the Ducks 114 points to Providence’s 183 who were relegated to second.
“In one way or another every runner for Oregon stepped up and ran in a way they hadn’t before,” Coach Johnson told GoDucks.com. “I am so proud of our women’s team and the job done by assistant coach Maurica Powell.”
Treacy accepted the result, but was frustrated with the process.
“We were national champions for ten minutes,” Treacy told a caller on his cell phone.
But the protests weren’t over. Florida State’s Amanda Winslow, who had finished 17th overall and 10th in the team scoring, had also been missed in the results, initially reported as “disqualified.” When she was reinstated, that moved Florida State to fourth place with 202 points, just four behind third place Stanford.
Florida State coach Karen Harvey was too angry to speak on the record, but said she was greatly disappointed with the technical execution of the meet and the impact it had on her athletes.
OKLAHOMA STATE, KITHUKA RUNAWAY WINNERS
The men’s 10-kilometer contest was far less dramatic. Oklahoma State dominated the team competition with 72 points, about half of what second place University of Wisconsin scored (135). Their top three men –Girma Mecheso, Tom Farrell and Shadrack Kipchirchir– all finished in the top-11 of the team scoring. The University of Colorado finished third with 158 points.
“I’m proud of them,” Coach Dave Smith said of his Cowboys team. “Some guys came through big-time today: Joseph Manilafasha (24th/17th team scoring), had an awesome race. Obviously, our front three, I knew they were good. I mean, our top-3 have been great all year for us.”
In the individual contest, Texas Tech junior Kennedy Kithuka scored a mild upset in beating Arizona’s Lawi Lalang, the defending champion, and his Arizona teammate Stephen Sambu. Off of a very fast early pace (4:32 for the opening mile), Kithuka surged to the lead just past the halfway point and ran away with the title in a course record 28:31.3.
“After 5-K I went and I see they were relaxing,” Kithuka said of Lalang and Sambu. “Then I broke away. That was my plan.”
Lalang ended up third in 28:51.8, well behind Sambu (28:38.6). He said he knew in the early going that it wasn’t his day.
“I knew I was actually losing from the start,” Lalang lamented. “I didn’t feel OK like I usually feel.” He continued: “You know what? Let me just conserve my energy. The next season’s coming (indoor track). I was already moving ahead.”
WOMEN (6 km):
Teams: 1. Oregon, 114 points; 2. Providence, 183; 3. Stanford, 198; 4. Florida State, 202; 5. Michigan, 247…
1. Betsy Saina, SR, Iowa State (KEN), 19:27.9
2. Abbey D’Agostino, JR, Dartmouth, 19:28.6
3. Jordan Hasay, SR, Oregon, 19:28.6
4. Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton, SR, Wichita State (KEN), 19:33.6
5. Risper Kimaiyo, SR, UTEP (KEN), 19:41.0
6. Cally Macumber, JR, Kentucky, 19:42.2
7. Mareike Schrulle, SR, Iowa (GER), 19:43.3
8. Alexi Pappas, SR, Oregon, 19:43.9
9. Laura Hollander, FR, Cal Poly, 19:45.2
10. Sarah Collins, FR, Providence, 19:50.7
MEN (10 km):
Teams: 1. Oklahoma State, 72 points; 2. Wisconsin, 135; 3. Colorado, 158; 4. Northern Arizona, 191; Florida State, 238…
1. Kennedy Kithuka, JR, Texas Tech (KEN), 28:31.3 CR
2. Stephen Sambu, SR, Arizona (KEN), 28:38.6
3. Lawi Lalang, SO, Arizona (KEN), 28:51.8
4. Anthony Rotich, FR, UTEP (KEN), 29:13.5
=5. Girma Mecheso, SR, OK State (USA), 29:14.8
=5. Henry Lelei, SR, Texas A&M (KEN), 29:14.8
7. David Rooney, SR, McNeese State, 29:21.3
8. Mohammed Ahmed, SR, Wisconsin (CAN), 29:23.9
9. Tom Farrell, JR, OK State (GBR), 29:26.3
10. Paul Chelimo, JR, UNC-Greensboro (KEN), 29:29.8