2017 Wisconsin XC Recap: Ednah Kurgat Leads New Mexico To Victory

By LetsRun.com
October 13, 2017

Friday the 13th was a great day to be a New Mexico Lobo as UNM claimed individual and team victories at the 2017 Nuttycombe Wisconsin Cross Country Invitational in Madison. Ednah Kurgat led the way, crushing the field with a winning time of 19:23.2, the third-fastest in meet history, behind only Boise State’s Allie Ostrander (19:19.5) and Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel (19:22.4) in 2015. Behind Kurgat, the Lobos also received strong runs from Alice Wright (4th, 19:45.1), Charlotte Prouse (7th, 19:54.3), and Weini Kelati (15th, 20:07.5) to tally 87 points, well ahead of runner-up San Francisco (126) in a field that contained 16 ranked teams. Ostrander, who returned to this race for the first time since setting the course record two years ago, finished 9th in 20:00.2.

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New Mexico made its intentions clear from the very beginning, as its top four were all at the very front of the pack after one mile. Kurgat began pressing at the two-kilometer mark and broke away for good just after the halfway point.

Kurgat missed the 2016 season after being forced to sit out following her transfer from Liberty University, but she ran 15:26 on the track last spring as an unattached athlete and has come out guns blazing this year, earning wins at the Joe Piane Invitational at Notre Dame and now Wisconsin.

“I used that (sitting out the 2016 season) as a challenge,” Kurgat told Flotrack after the race. “I used it as a positive challenge and when I come back, I try to improve myself.”

Our quick take analysis appears below. Full Wisco Results Here.

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Quick Take #1: New Mexico makes another statement, but will their top four be enough to overcome the gap to #5?

We knew coming in that New Mexico had a really strong front four, but the question mark was the #5 spot. At Notre Dame, UNM was better than No. 1 Colorado through four runners but the Lobos’ fifth was 16 places (and 16 seconds) behind the Buffaloes’ fifth, giving Colorado the 47-51 victory. Clearly, the #5 spot will be key to the Lobos’ title hopes

Since Colorado didn’t race today, let’s compare UNM’s run today to UNM’s run at Notre Dame. At Notre Dame, UNM’s #5 was senior Kieran Casey and she was 34th overall, 31.5 seconds behind their #4. Today, UNM’s #5 was freshman Alondra Negron, who was 60th overall, 46.1 seconds behind their #4.

That’s not a totally complete comparison since ND was a 5k race and today was a 6k. But comparatively, the gap was still larger today as Casey was 6.3 seconds/kilometer behind #4 while Negron was 7.7 seconds/kilometer behind #5.

That said, 87 points is still a terrific score. That’s what Michigan State scored here in 2014 and that team went on to win the NCAA meet handily.

But it’s very possible that this year’s Colorado team could be better than both of those squads. Remember, Colorado beat UNM at ND, and though they don’t have quite the same firepower as the Lobos up front, the Buffaloes have extraordinary depth. It’s not hard to imagine CU doing something like 10-15-16-20-25 today — which is 86 points, or one fewer than New Mexico scored.

The good news for New Mexico is that Casey was less than three seconds behind Negron today. Logically, your chances of getting a big run from the #5 spot double if you have two potential scorers rather than one.

Quick Take #2: Ednah Kurgat is for real, but let’s wait until tomorrow before crowning her the NCAA favorite

What Kurgat did today was mighty impressive as she crushed a quality field over the second half of the race and ran a very fast 19:23 time despite a slow first mile. But none of the top four returners from last year’s NCAA meet were in this race, including the top two in reigning champ Karissa Schweizer of Missouri and Oregon’s Katie Rainsberger, who will square off tomorrow at Pre-Nats. Both Schweizer and Rainsberger have looked terrific so far this season, and we want to see how they look in Louisville tomorrow before proclaiming anyone the NCAA favorite.

Quick Take #3: Biggest Losers (team) — A number of ranked women’s teams struggled including #5 Stanford

The following chart shows you the biggest winners and losers of the ranked teams.

Seed Team (National Rank) Place Diff
1 New Mexico (#3) 1 0
2 Stanford (#5) 8 +6 
3 San Fran (#6) 2 -1
4 NC State (#7) 3 -1
5 Providence (#8) 5 0
6 Washington  (#11) 7 +1
7 Boise St. (#13) 4 -3
8 Indiana (#14) 17 +9
9 Wisconsin (#17) 9 0
10 Iowa St. (#18) 13 3
11 Minnesota (#20) 10 -1
12 Furman (#21) 6 -6
13 Utah (#22) 16 3
14 Georgetown (#22) 19 +5
15 Yale (#27) 20 +5
16 UVA (#28) 21 +5

There were 16 ranked teams in the women’s field and five of them finished at least five spots lower than their ranking led (in the wrong direction) by the 5th-ranked Stanford. Stanford had the 2nd-highest ranking of any team in the field but only ended up 8th. Three of the seven fastest US high school 1500 runners of all time (Christina Aragon 4:08.71, Elise Cranny 4:10.95, Ella Donaghu 4:14.11) are all at Stanford right now but only Donaghu, who was 100th at NCAAs last year, raced on Friday and she was only 120th. Stanford was also missing Courtney Smith (32:08 10k) from its roster today.

Other ranked teams that didn’t do as well as their ranking were #14 Indiana – the 8th-highest ranked team – which was just 17th. #22 Georgetown, #27 Yale and #28 UVA – the 14th-, 15th-, and 16th-best teams on paper all finished five spots worse than that, in 19th, 20th and 21st.

The following chart shows you the biggest winners and losers of the ranked teams.

Quick Take #4: Biggest Winners (ranked teams) — It was a great day for the women of Furman

Only one ranked team finished more than five places better than expected and that was #21 Furman. The Paladins came in as the 12th-highest ranked team in the meet and finished 6th. As a result, they should be very confident that they’ll be qualifying for NCAAs for the very first time in program history next month. Yes, that’s right, Furman has never made it to NCAAs as a team on the women’s side even though Furman hosted the meet in 1997 and 2001.

Quick Take #5: Biggest Winners (unranked teams)

Since four of the 16 ranked women’s teams didn’t finish in the top 16, that means there were four unranked teams that did finish in the top 16. The highest-placing unranked team was Michigan State, which was 11th, followed closely by unranked Columbia, who was 12th. Eastern Michigan (14th) and Cal (15th) also cracked the top 16.

Talk about the meet on our fan forum / messageboard. MB: Official 2017 Wisco / Pre-Nats Discussion Thread- Who you got? 

Full results here.

Men’s Recap: 2017 Wisco XC Recap: Justyn Knight Edges Grant FishersAs NAU Dominates, But Who Were The Biggest Winners and Losers? Today’s 2017 Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational in Madison played out very much the same as the 2016 Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational as for the second year in a row, the No. 1 Northern Arizona men and Syracuse’s Justyn Knight emerged as the champions.  We break it down for you and tell you which teams flopped and which teams surprised.

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