Oregon’s Edward Cheserek wins unprecedented third NCAA Championship as both cross country teams claim trophies
By the end of the NCAA Cross Country Championships, Edward Cheserek found himself running alone towards the finish line. The star junior pulled away from the last challenger with 1500 meters to go, and coasted to his third consecutive individual title Saturday afternoon at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Kentucky.
Cheserek’s unprecedented victory, as no other male athlete has ever claimed three straight titles, was the highlight for a Ducks program that saw both the men and women finish on the podium for the first time in seven years.
The Oregon women finished third (214), which was their best mark since they won the meet in 2012. They finished behind top-ranked New Mexico (49) and Colorado (129).
Senior Waverly Neer (27th), Alli Cash (31st) and Molly Grabill (33rd) led the women of Oregon. Grabill was the performer who pushed Oregon into third place, as she passed several dozen competitors in the final 500 meters.
The men battled for fourth place (183), coming in behind Syracuse (82), Colorado (91) and Stanford (151). This was the best performance from the Oregon men since they finished as runner-ups in 2009. The Buffalo finishing second was the surprise result of the meet, as they were the heavy favorites going into the contest.
Cheserek pushed the pace early, joined by fellow favorites Patrick Tiernan of Villanova, Anthony Rotich of Texas-El Paso and Justyn Knight of Syracuse. Cheserek and Tiernan ran shoulder-to-shoulder for a long stretch of the course, until Cheserek turned on the jets in the final stretch to pull away.
Cheserek won the race in 28:45.8, while sophomore Travis Neuman took 46th and junior Jake Leingang placed 50th.
Follow Christopher Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur
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