2011 NCAA Cross-Country Championships Men's Recap
Wisconsin & Lali Lalang End Up Winning As Expected
Chris Derrick Caps Fantastic Career With Runner-Up Finish
November 21, 2011
November 21, 2011 - The 2011 NCAA men's cross-country championships went according to form at the top, as the favored Wisconsin Badgers and Lawi Lalang came away with the team and individual titles.
Team Battle - Wisconsin Takes Control At The Start
The #1 ranked Badgers earned the program's fifth national title by doing exactly what we thought they'd do - go out and score around 100 points. In our preview, we wrote, "Let's say Wisconsin goes 10-15-20-25-30. That's not even an unreal day for them, but it's only 100 points. That would make it tough for Oklahoma State."
Well, that's exactly what Wisconsin did, basically hovering right at 100 points throughout the race. The Badgers established themselves early and led at every single checkpoint. The two-time defending champion Oklahoma State Cowboys did make a run at Wisconsin during the middle half of the race, but barring a blowup, this race really was never in doubt from a team perspective. If the Cowboys were going to upend the Badgers, they were going to have be better than Wisco up front, as it was clear before the race (and in the opening stages of the race, when OSU's 5-6-7 started off in the back of the field) that Oklahoma State was going to be way behind on the fifth man.
But Oklahoma State's leading duo of Colby Lowe and German Fernandez ran a conservative race from the get-go. They were behind Wisconsin's #1 man Mohammed Ahmed throughout the race. At 2k, Fernandez and Lowe were outside the top 50 in 53rd and 54th. At 5,000, Lowe and Fernandez went through with Wisconsin's #2 man Elliot Krause in 14:52-3 - some 20 seconds behind Ahmed in a large group of guys running 18th through 35th.
Oklahoma State had started way off the pace, and as a result, Wisconsin was way ahead in the team standings from the beginning of the race. At 2k, the Badgers had 92 points and second place Indiana had 167 (Oklahoma State was 13th with 352). At 5k, the Badgers had 104 and second place Stanford had 175 (Oklahoma State had 4th with 200). At 8k, the Badgers had 95 and #2 ranked Oklahoma State had 139.
The Cowboys had tried their hardest and got within a Badger blowup of winning the title at 8k, but there would be no meltdowns from Wisconsin on Monday like there were last year (when the Badgers went from second to a distant third in the team standings after Elliot Krause cratered big time over the final 2,000), and Wisconsin prevailed 97 to 139 over Oklahoma State with Colorado a very close third at 144.
Expected Result - Achieved Slightly Unexpectedly
While the Badgers won with a final score that was to be expected, they did it in a slightly different fashion than what they'd been showing all year. Throughout the whole year, the Badgers had been running as a tight pack and 18 seconds was the largest 1-5 spread they had shown. Well, today their group was spread out a great deal, as there was a 73-second spread between first and fifth. But the Badgers' top 5 all put forth credible efforts, as their top four were all individual All-Americans and their fifth man was just 6 spots out in 46th. The reason why there was a big spread was that the Big 10 individual champ Mohammed Ahmed ran all-out today for perhaps the first time all year and the results were that he was quite a bit better than his teammates, as he ended up 5th overall. Ignoring him, the Badgers had a 38-second spread between 2 and 5.
In the end, Ahmed did lead the Badgers to the title with a fifth place individual showing (3rd in the team standings). Oklahoma State then put two in, as Lowe and Fernandez would come home roughly 25 seconds later in 10th and 11th (7th and 8th in the scoring). Then it was time for Wisconsin to answer with two of their own, as Krause got the top-20 showing that he had for 8,000 meters last year, finishing 17th overall (13th team) before UVA transfer Ryan Collins was 23rd overall (19th team) for the Badgers. Wisconsin and Oklahoma State would then alternate finishers before OSU's 5th man came home pretty far back.
Tom Farrell - OSU - 31st (22nd team)
Reed Connor - Wisconsin - 36th (27th team)
Maverick Darling - 46th (35th team)
Shadrack Kipchirchir - OSU - 50th (39th team)
Johnathan Stublaski - OSU - 85th (63rd team)