At NCAAs, men flourish, women fizzle
The Oregon men rebounded in dramatic fashion from a disappointing NCAA West Regionals performance, placing four runners in the top 31 to finish second as a team at the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Monday morning in Terre Haute, Ind.
Oklahoma State, the No. 2 team in the nation entering Monday’s 10,000 m race, scored 127 points to the Ducks’ 143 to win the team title.
The Cowboys placed three runners in the top 13 — senior Ryan Vail (ninth place, 29:40.7), sophomore Colby Lowe (10th, 29:42.4) and senior John Kosgei (13th, 29:48.3) — buoyed by a 28th-place finish from sophomore Girma Mecheso (30:13.6). Alabama placed three runners in the top 26 but scored 173 points, as the third team on the championship podium.
Northern Arizona saw juniors David McNeill (second, 29:06.5) and Jordan Chipangama (fifth, 29:33.1) provide short-lived challenges to the individual championship crown, but a lack of depth ultimately cost the Lumberjacks, who finished with 190 points and fourth place. William and Mary (226 points) and Colorado (315 points) finished in fifth and sixth places respectfully.
Oregon accomplished a goal that had remained elusive as the season progressed: to run a complete team race. Four Ducks finished in the top 31, headed up by sophomore Luke Puskedra (21st, 30:01.9).
“Our men just ran a terrific race,” said head cross country coach Vin Lananna in a media release. “It’s always a good accomplishment when you can leave these championships with a trophy.”
Following Puskedra across the finish line were junior Matthew Centrowitz (27th, 30:09.5), senior Kenny Klotz (29th, 30:13.9) and junior Danny Mercado (31st, 30:15.4). All four earned All-America honors for their performances.
Senior Diego Mercado (61st, 30:34.4) was the Ducks’ fifth and final scorer.
“We knew what we were capable of doing,” Danny Mercado said in the release. “We just wanted to go out and prove that we’re a good team.”
Junior A.J. Acosta (106th) and senior Jordan McNamara (179th) were the Ducks’ other two competitors.
The national championships were covered on live television by the Versus network, which chose to focus on the individual races in its coverage. Viewers of the men’s race saw Sam Chelanga of Liberty blaze through the course en route to his first individual national title in 28:41.3. The junior’s mark broke the previous course record of 29:03.2, set last year by Galen Rupp.
The Ducks fared far better at the national meet than they did at their West Regional competition. Despite a third-place finish from sophomore Chris Derrick, who attempted to challenge Chelanga late before fading back, the Stanford Cardinal finished in 10th place despite entering nationals as the No. 1 team. Portland, which secured the second of the two automatic berths to nationals, finished in 13th place.
Women finish ninth; UW disappoints
Illinois senior Angela Bizzarri held off Washington’s Kendra Schaaf and Florida State’s Susan Kuijken for the women’s individual title, but Villanova won the team title, and the
top-ranked Huskies finished in a disappointing third. Villanova scored 86 points to the Seminoles’ 133 and UW’s 188.
Oregon finished with 276 points, four more than Duke and 16 more than Florida.
“It was a disappointing day for our women,” Lananna said, “but when you consider that neither program was even at this meet four years ago, to finish second and ninth isn’t too bad.”
Freshman Jordan Hasay led the Ducks with an 18th-place finish (20:23.1), her lowest finish in a cross country meet since placing sixth at the Bill Dellinger
Invitational on Oct. 30.
“The pace went out really quick,” Hasay said. “The last kilometer, I just tried to be tough. I wanted to finish in the top 10, but I can’t be too disappointed.”
The other members of the Ducks’ top triumvirate did not fare well in Terre Haute. Senior Nicole Blood had never placed below the top 10 at NCAAs; on Monday she finished 48th (20:54.6). Junior Alex Kosinski had never finished below the top 13 at NCAAs; on Monday she finished 81st (21:10.5).
Sophomore Claire Michel finished 87th (2:12.6) and senior Lauren Zaludek finished 103rd (21:19.2) to round out the Ducks’ scorers. Sophomore Bronwyn Crossman (205th, 22:07.0) and freshman Anne Kesselring (211th, 22:12.6) also competed for the Ducks.
The women’s individual race shaped up as a duel between Colorado senior Jenny Barringer — a the favorite entering Monday — and Kuijken, who had immediately sprung to the front of the pack. Halfway through, Barringer began to experience discomfort. She came to a stop at one point in the race, collapsing on the grass, before standing back up and continuing to race. Barringer finished163rd.
The Texas Tech women were left off the podium, scoring 191 points. Princeton (251) and West Virginia (259) finished in fifth and sixth place, respectively.
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