Molly Seidel Breaks The Foot Locker Curse And New Mexico Makes History At 2015 NCAA Cross-Country Championships

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November 21, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Something had to give. A freshman had not won the NCAA women’s cross country title in 30 years and a Foot Locker champion had never won the title.

Yet over the final kilometer at the 2015 NCAA Championships at Louisville’s E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park, it was clear the 2015 NCAA title was going to go to Boise State freshman Allie Ostrander or Notre Dame senior Molly Seidel (2011 Foot Locker Champion).

Molly Seidel wins it

Molly Seidel wins it

In the end Seidel was too good as she got the title in 19:28.6, five seconds ahead of Ostrander. Dominique Scott of Arkansas was clearly third best as the top three had separated from the pack over the final third of the race.

Then the New Mexico onslaught began as Courtney Frerichs was 4th, followed by her teammate Alice Wright in 5th. Rhona Auckland was 13th, Calli Thackery 15th, and when 5th runner Molly Renfer crossed in 24th, it was complete, total domination for New Mexico and the first NCAA title for coach Joe Franklin with 49 points, comfortably ahead of Colorado in 2nd with 129. Oregon ran well in 3rd and was followed on the podium by Providence in 4th.

49 points was the lowest point total ever on the women’s side at NCAAs with a full allotment of teams.

We break it down for you with five points of analysis below.

1) Make no mistake: the 2015 New Mexico Lobos are the greatest NCAA women’s cross country team in history

In our pre-meet analysis, we compared New Mexico to the great women’s teams of the past, including the 2004 Colorado Buffaloes and the 2008 Washington Huskies. Today, the Lobos blew past them all as they tallied just 49 points — the lowest since 1982. The only two teams to score fewer points were Virginia in 1981 (36) and 1982 (48), but women’s collegiate running wasn’t nearly as strong then as it is now. Additionally, the fields were much smaller back then — there were women’s 28 teams, combined, in the 1981 and 1982 meets. There were 31 women’s teams on the line in Louisville today.

New Mexico celebrates

New Mexico celebrates

So huge congratulations are in order for Joe Franklin and New Mexico, who once again destroyed the competition. It’s not easy to put four women in the top 15 and five in the top 24; it’s even harder to reach a point where such a performance doesn’t even register as a surprise. But the Lobos have been historically good all year long, and showed it once again today with the greatest NCAA performance in modern history.

The Lobo women will be remembered as the greatest team ever so it’s only appropriate that they did their post-race interviews together.

In their interview, the Lobo women were full of praise for coach Joe Franklin, who was very relaxed in his post-race comments.

“It’s nice. I’m happy for them. You know hope the stars align and this has been a year where there has been virtually no sickness, virtually no injury so there was no reason to at least give it a shot so I’m super excited for them,” said Franklin.

When asked about having the lowest point total in modern history, Franklin turned philosophical.

“There are certain things you remember in your life. There’s a birth of a child, a marriage, and there is always some sporting event that you remember – whether we could all go throughout history [and it might be] that seventh grade basketball game. And this one will be seared into their memory for the rest of their life and that’s what makes the sport wonderful.”

2) RIP: Foot Locker Curse – 1981 to 2015

The Foot Locker curse lived a much longer life than most anticipated. 34 years is way too long for the best girls’ high school cross country runner in the land to never win the NCAA cross country crown.

Molly Seidel finally put a dagger in the heart of the curse with a great run, earning the second NCAA title of her career. This win was different as the win on the track in the 10,000 in the spring was a big shock. This was just a mild upset. Five weeks ago, Ostrander had beaten Seidel at Wisco by three seconds but since then Seidel had been on a tear (she won ACCs by 33 seconds and Regionals by 14 seconds) before winning by five seconds today.

Seidel talked about the curse after her win today.

“If anything, coming out [after winning Foot Locker], you get a lot of expectations [placed] on you. And you never know how a college career is going to go. WIth mine, the first couple of years definitely didn’t go – they weren’t as successful [according to] a lot of other people’s definitions of success but they helped me grow and helped me become stronger, and without those two years, I wouldn’t be here today. And it’s made this that much more special.”

When asked about the key to her turnaround, Seidel was quick to praise Notre Dame coach Matt Sparks, who joined the program in 2014. Prior to Sparks showing up in South Bend, Seidel was 217th and 171st at NCAAs in cross country. With Sparks there, she was 19th and 1st.

“A lot of things changed. I got a little bit older and smarter and learn my body and overcoming some chronic injury problems I had and Sparks has been enormous, he’s been enormous for me just from a confidence standpoint. He believed in me when no one else did. I think a lot of this is testament to him and testament to our team,” said Seidel.

Today wasn’t a good day for 2010 Foot Locker champ Aisling Cuffe of Stanford, who came in as one of the three biggest favorites along with Seidel and Ostrander but ended up only 117th. Props to Cuffe though for not ducking out of facing the media or throwing a fit like so many athletes we’ve seen over the years.

“I just had a bad day. I didn’t get out hard enough. The course is a little narrow and I didn’t do a good job of moving up through the pack,” said Cuffe, who added that she thinks she’ll be back to her old form in track.

As for the Foot Locker curse, Cuffe said, “I think she said it in the press I’m sure [Molly Seidel] agree, it’s definitely not a curse to have won Foot Locker – if anything, it’s like a blessing.”

Blessing indeed. One more note on Foot Lockers — Seidel’s fellow champ in 2011 also wound up winning today. Check out the photo of Seidel and Cheserek below after their Foot Locker victories.

3) Third-placer Dominique Scott has December 22 circled on her calendar — for more than one reason

Today’s meet was essentially a re-run of last month’s Wisconsin adidas Invitational, the key difference being that Molly Seidel dropped Allie Ostrander as opposed to the other way round at Wisconsin. Behind them at NCAAs, as in Wisconsin, Scott was third and Courtney Frerichs fourth.

Scott said she was “content” with her performance today — she simply couldn’t hang with the top two over the final kilometer but did her best to run tough and hold on for third.

Scott won’t be running for the Razorbacks indoors (she has exhausted her indoor eligibility but has one outdoor season remaining) but there will be plenty of excitement coming for her this winter as she will marry fellow Razorback Cameron Efurd on December 22. That date also marks the start of her citizenship process as Scott, a South Africa native, hopes to compete for the U.S. internationally. Scott doesn’t know how long it will take to be cleared to run for America, but she said she has retained an immigration attorney to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. Even if she isn’t allowed to represent the U.S. internationally, Scott wants to race at the Olympic Trials next year in order to gain experiencing racing the best women in the country.

4) Notre Dame’s Anna Rohrer wanted to end the Foot Locker Curse herself, but said if anyone else was to do it, she was glad it was teammate Molly Seidel

Rohrher (third from left) joined Seidel (far right) in the top 10

Rohrer (sixth from right) joined Seidel (far right) in the top 10

Distance fans may not have to wait another 34 years for the next Foot Locker champ to win NCAA cross as Seidel’s teammate, two-time Foot Locker champ Anna Rohrer, was an impressive sixth today.

Rohrer, who won Foot Lockers in both 2012 and 2014, was one of four freshmen in the top 10 today (Boise State’s Allie Ostrander and Brenna Peloquin and Kansas’ Sharon Lokedi were the others) and said at the start of the year she wanted to be top 20 at NCAAs but didn’t know what to expect. After a tremendous freshman fall (Rohrer was second only to Seidel at ACCs and the Great Lakes Regional), it’s clear we can expect great things from Rohrer in the years to come.

However, one accomplishment she won’t be able to claim is breaking the Foot Locker curse as Seidel beat her to the punch today. Unlike Seidel, who refused to comment on the “curse” at yesterday’s press conference, Rohrer acknowledged it and said that she had planned on breaking it herself but was very happy for Seidel to do it instead.

“If it’s not gonna be me, I’m glad it’s her,” Rohrer said.

5) Michigan’s Erin Finn channeled her inner Zola Budd to take 19th after losing BOTH shoes

Finn was the victim of some very bad luck today as she was clipped twice, once on each heel, from behind around the 2k mark. She felt her heels slipping out of her spikes (and socks) and rather than struggle to keep them on, she decided to kick them off and run the remaining four kilometers barefoot. Finn likely wasn’t touching Seidel today (Seidel beat her by 40 seconds at regionals) but Finn was in fourth at 2k and running without shoes definitely cost her some ground over the latter part of the race. A tough break, but props to Finn for toughing it out.

Full Team and Top 25 Individual Results below. Full results here

1Molly SeidelSR – Notre Dame19:28.61
2Allie Ostrander FR – Boise State19:33.62
3Dominique ScottSR – Arkansas19:40.93
4Courtney FrerichsSR – New Mexico19:48.04
5Alice WrightSO – New Mexico19:53.15
6Anna RohrerFR – Notre Dame19:59.76
7Allie BuchalskiJR – Furman20:02.6
8Maddie MeyersSR – Washington20:03.17
9Brenna PeloquinFR – Boise State20:04.38
10Sharon LokediFR – Kansas20:04.99
11Erin ClarkJR – Colorado20:05.410
12Ednah KurgatFR – Liberty20:06.7
13Rhona AucklandJR – New Mexico20:07.111
14Chelsea BlaaseSR – Tennessee20:07.2
15Calli ThackerySR – New Mexico20:07.312
16Kaitlyn BennerSO – Colorado20:07.713
17Alyssa SchneiderSR – Illinois20:09.4
18Letitia SaaymanSR – Coastal Carolina20:09.8
19Erin FinnJR – Michigan20:10.214
20Sarah CollinsJR – Providence20:11.215
21Alexis WiersmaJR – Michigan State20:12.116
22Hannah EversonSR – Air Force20:15.5
23Natalie SchudrowitzSO – Brown20:16.7
24Molly RenferSR – New Mexico20:17.517
25Regan RomeSO – William and Mary20:17.7

Team Scores

1New Mexico4, 5, 11, 12, 17, (51), (76)49
2Colorado10, 13, 30, 32, 44, (102), (111)129
3Oregon18, 19, 21, 77, 79, (83), (91)214
4Providence15, 25, 42, 68, 81, (99), (141)231
5NC State38, 40, 49, 62, 75, (96), (126)264
6Michigan14, 36, 60, 67, 87, (110), (142)264
7Oklahoma State22, 27, 48, 88, 89, (165), (180)274
8Notre Dame1, 6, 64, 101, 104, (123)276
9Arkansas3, 31, 70, 78, 94, (140), (179)276
10Washington7, 53, 63, 74, 100, (133), (188)297
11Boise State2, 8, 34, 127, 159, (166), (169)330
12Syracuse35, 37, 46, 107, 134, (170), (192)359
13Michigan State16, 54, 58, 93, 147, (158), (164)368
14Stanford26, 59, 84, 95, 115, (122), (172)379
15Virginia45, 52, 61, 90, 138, (171), (209)386
16Penn State24, 65, 69, 117, 121, (143), (187)396
17Miss State23, 33, 92, 125, 132, (150), (175)405
18Minnesota29, 50, 112, 118, 162, (181), (186)471
19Vanderbilt20, 72, 113, 130, 139, (176), (183)474
20Georgetown41, 73, 97, 124, 156, (174), (193)491
21Princeton39, 55, 128, 149, 153, (178), (190)524
22Weber State43, 82, 86, 151, 196, (208), (211)558
23BYU66, 103, 119, 136, 167, (204), (205)591
24Iowa State28, 116, 144, 148, 155, (168), (203)591
25Gonzaga56, 105, 108, 146, 200, (212), (215)615
26Utah71, 129, 131, 135, 152, (182), (189)618
27Kansas9, 120, 145, 157, 194, (198), (210)625
28San Francisco57, 85, 98, 195, 201, (213), (216)636
29Tulsa47, 109, 114, 185, 191, (207), (214)646
30Villanova80, 106, 137, 160, 184, (199), (202)667
31Texas154, 161, 163, 173, 177, (197), (206)828