Division I & III XC Conference Championships Recaps (FULL WEEKEND)
NEW ORLEANS – The most action-packed weekend of the NCAA cross country season is here: Conference Championships weekend!
We’re following the action all weekend long on the USTFCCCA National Results Wall, and we’re going to continuously update this page with recaps of the biggest meets of the day shortly after they conclude.
Results from all of today’s action can be found on the USTFCCCA Conference Championships Central Page.
SUNDAY: Big Ten
No. 1 Michigan State Women Victorious over No. 8 Wisconsin; No. 4 Michigan Faces Another Setback
The weekend’s top match-up from a team perspective was supposed to go down today in Iowa City as the No. 1 Michigan State women took on No. 4 Michigan (the national preseason favorites) for control of the Big Ten title.
Word out of Iowa City yesterday that UofM’s frontrunning defending Big Ten Champ Erin Finn was out with injury changed this match-up dramatically, enabling the MSU women to roll over the field, scoring 26 points to No. 8 Wisconsin‘s 55 and the Finn-less No. 4 Michigan’s 93.
With 26 points, your MSU Women's XC Team is the 2014 #B1GXC Champions!
— MSU Track/Field & XC (@MSUTrackFieldXC) November 2, 2014
As has been their modus operandi all year long, the Spartans put a big pack of women up front, with all five scorers finishing in the top 11, led by winner Leah O’Connor in 19:26.3 on the very flat 6k course.
This marks just the second time in five meets this year that the 2014 NCAA steeplechase champ has been the Spartans’ No. 1; those other three races saw Rachele Schulist lead the way. She was third here today behind O’Connor and Wisconsin’s Sarah Disanza (19:28.1), but a very distant third in 19:54.4. Lindsay Clark was once again the No. 3 runner for MSU in fourth, followed by Julia Otwell in seventh and 2012 Big Ten champ Sara Kroll in 11th.
MSU’s Nos. 6 and 7 runners came through in 13th and 17th, giving the Spartans seven across the finish line before Wisconsin’s No. 5 (26th).
Outside of that No. 5 runner, however, the Badgers looked good one through four. Disanza continued a breakthrough season in a runner-up showing (she was 12th at Wisconsin two weekends ago and won at Louisville) and three other Badgers finished in the top 12.
Wisconsin attacked early in the race with four of the top six runners at 3k and slipped a bit, while MSU only bolstered its position in the late stages. At the halfway point, Wisco trailed MSU by just 14 points, 32-46.
Who knows how the race would have played out had Finn pushed the pace from the beginning as is her signature style. Without her, Michigan scored 93 points with a pair of top-10 finishers in sixth-place Shannon Osika and eighth-place Brook Handler, with the rest of the scoring pack finishing 24th, 27th and 28th.
Hypothetically, if you were to simply plug Finn in even as the race winner (she was the defending Big Ten Champion, after all) and bump everyone else’s finishing order down one position (we know that’s not how it works), here’s what you’d get:
The lone top-10 individual finisher not from Michigan State, Wisconsin or Michigan was Ohio State All-American Katie Borchers in ninth.
Most of these teams will battle again in two weeks’ time, this time at the Great Lakes Regionals at Wisconsin on Friday, Nov. 14.
No. 6 Wisconsin Men Reclaim The Big Ten Title for the 15th time in 16 Years
After Indiana surprised the Big Ten Conference a year ago to end Wisconsin’s 14-year reign atop the league in cross country, the Badgers were not about to let it happen again this year.
Led by a 1-2 individual sweep by now two-time Big Ten Champ sophomore Malachy Schrobilgen and Michael Vanvoorhis, No. 6 Wisconsin stormed to the front of the pack in the second half of the race en route to a 47-77 victory over No. 14 Michigan. Defending conference champ No. 20 Indiana was back in fourth-place, edged out by Penn State (receiving votes nationally), 92-95.
— Big Ten Champs (@bigtenchamps) November 2, 2014
Wisconsin’s 47 points at the potential start of its new run atop the conference (more on the Badgers’ youth in a moment) was higher than it scored at any point during its 14 year run from 1999 through 2012 (highest was 45 in 2000).
The men’s race took a long time to string out, with upwards of 20 guys still in the lead pack with less than 2k to go in the 8k race. As such, Wisconsin was way back in the field at 3k, with none of its top five higher than 20th place (UW’s Russell Sandvold was the 3k leader, but he did not finish the race).
When all was said and done, the Badgers top six runners all crossed the line in the top 20. Schrobilgen defending his title with a 23:35.0 clocking over 8k, followed less than three seconds later by Vanvoorhis and another two second later by last year’s runner-up Matt McClintock of Purdue. The Mitten State duo of Michigan’s Mason Ferlic and Michigan State’s Caleb Rhynard rounded out the top five individuals.
For Wisconsin, Morgan McDonald was 12th, Carl Hirsch was 14th and Joe Hardy was 18th – all freshmen to round out the Badgers’ scoring five. Plus, No. 6 Ryan Kromer in 20th is also a frosh.
Michigan’s runners at No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 were all relatively in line with Wisconsin (a combined nine-point advantage for Wisconsin), but 13th-place Ben Flanagan at No. 2 (who, to his credit, did move up from 56th to 13th) and 28th-place August Pappas at No. 5 made the difference. Wisco scored 20 points at those two positions, to Michigan’s 41.
Finishing a surprising third was Penn State, led by eighth-place Matt Fischer. The Nittany Lions edged out defending champ Indiana by three points, and with victories over both the Hoosiers and No. 22 Michigan State today, this could be a big day for PSU’s NCAA Championships at-large hopes. Another upset of No. 7 Villanova, No. 16 Georgetown or Princeton at Mid-Atlantic Regionals would also go a long way to that end.
Indiana put two in the top 10 with ninth-place Jason Crist and 10th-place Matthew Schwartzer, but the superb pack running that led them to the team title a year ago (four in the top 10) was not there today. Rorey Hunter, who was seventh for IU last year at this meet, was 21st, and the No. 5 runner came in 39th.
Also in the top 10 were sixth-place Kevin Lewis of host Iowa and seventh-place Aaron Bartnik of Minnesota.
SATURDAY RECAPS BEGIN
Nelson & her Iowa State Women are Dominant
It's OFFICIAL! The Cyclone women are four-time defending #Big12XC CHAMPIONS!
— Cyclone TFCC (@CycloneTrackXC) November 1, 2014
Iowa State’s Crystal Nelson vs. Baylor’s Rachel Johnson. Wisconsin winner vs. Pre-Nats Winner. Presumptive National Title contenders. This showdown at the Big 12 Championships was billed as the top individual showdown of the conference championships weekend.
Nelson put an end to that talk pretty quickly.
After coming through 3k side-by-side with Johnson, teammate Katy Moen and Oklahoma State’s Monika Juodeskaite, the Cyclone made a huge move in the fourth kilometer to open up a five-second lead at 4k over Moen (more on her in a moment) and an 11-second lead on Johnson/Juodeskaite.
That lead only kept growing over the final 2k, as Nelson crossed the line in 19:48.8 to win by nearly 10 seconds over Moen and nearly 27 seconds (!) over Johnson.
For Nelson, this clearly marks her as one of the national title favorites. She now has wins over the only two women who have finished ahead of her this year: Shelby Houlihan of Arizona State (won Griak to Nelson’s third; beat her at Wisconsin) and Johnson (runner-up at Griak; beat her soundly today).
She’s taken down pretty much everybody except for the top runners at Pre-Nats behind Johnson (Curham of Princeton, Coogan of Georegetown, Finn of Michigan) and Kate Avery of Iona, who ran a scorching 19:15 in her debut at MAACs yesterday.
Nelson’s No. 6 Iowa State team was also completely dominant, winning handily over No. 9 West Virginia and No. 28 Baylor, 29-58-70. Their 29 points was the lowest winning total since 2004 when Colorado won with 25 points., and equal to the second-best since the turn of the new millennium, 2000 Colorado with 29 points. Both teams eventually won NCAA titles later that year.
Scarier yet? The Cyclones ran without returning All-American Bethanie Brown, who is dealing with a minor foot injury and is expected to return this fall after running as recently as Griak. In her stead, Margaret Connelly ran exceptionally well just behind Baylor’s Johnson in fourth, while frosh Erin Hooker ran the best race of her collegiate career in ninth-place. She was the Cyclones’ No. 5 at Wisconsin all the way back in 107th place.
The country’s best 1-2 punch in Nelson & Moen, grouped with sustained/continually improving performances from Connelly and Hooker and the successful return of Brown, could land Iowa State very high on the podium.
Meanwhile, West Virginia performed well in its runner-up showing. Katie Gillespie led the way in fifth and Maggie Drazba was eighth – both of whom finished ahead of 12th-place Jillian Forsey, the runner who led them with a top-10 individual finish to fifth-place at Wisconsin.
Though Johnson’s performance may not have met expectations, she still led Baylor to its best finish since 2008. Plus, they notched a good Kolas win over No. 21 Oklahoma State, who is currently slotted as the No. 2 team in the Midwest (may not be after this weekend depending what happens elsewhere around the country).
Erassa & his Oklahoma State Men Cruise to 7th Title in a Row
This tweet from Oklahoma State athletics sums it up best:
— Oklahoma State (@OSUAthletics) November 1, 2014
As expected, the No. 4 Oklahoma State men ran away with the team title with a decisive move at 5k, scoring 27 points to 65 for No. 26 Oklahoma, 80 for No. 30 Iowa State and 84 for No. 29 Texas.
Kirubel Erassa took the individual title in 24:08.3 in his toughest individual test of the season over Oklahoma’s Abbibaya Simbassa in 24:11.2 and Texas’ Craig Lutz in 24:13.5. All told, OSU put all five of its scoring runners in the top 10, and seven in the top 12.
With OSU facing many of these same teams at Midwest Regionals in a couple of weeks, there isn’t much more that will be learned about this Oklahoma State team (these are the only ranked teams they’ve faced all year) until NCAAs on November 22. American Athletics Conference champ No. 27 Tulsa will be added to the mix, but no one else who will take a serious shot at the Cowboys.
For Oklahoma and Iowa State, the wins over Texas could prove valuable for at-large NCAA Championships qualification, as Texas will likely automatically make it out of the South Central Region.
Williams Men Silence Would-Be Usurpers Colby
The men of Williams threw a veritable bathtub of cold water on any talk of Colby taking over the NESCAC. In a showdown between the No. 3 and 7 teams in the country, the Ephs won their second straight team title (and third in the last four years), beating the Mules 39-76. National No. 9 Middlebury was just four points back of Colby in third, and it was a scant thirteen more points to No. 16 Amherst in fourth.
Six of the last seven NESCAC men’s individual champions have won a national title in cross country or track (or both); the seventh, Middlebury alum and current Tufts assistant Michael Schmidt, took second in the outdoor 10k. 2014 champ Colin Cotton looks to join that elite group, as he easily dispatched Colby’s David Chelimo by thirteen seconds. Two of his teammates actually finished closer to Chelimo: Bijan Mazaheri was a second back in third, and Aldis Inde was five seconds behind Chelimo in fourth.
Though they dominated up front, most of the Ephs’s 37-point margin came from their fifth man. Through four runners, they led Colby 19-33. Their last scorer, Cole Townsend, took 20th, while Colby’s #5, Ben Lester, was 43rd.
The first four teams finished in the exact order that they’re ranked nationally, but the next three spots saw a minor upset: No. 28 Tufts and No. 34 Bowdoin both knocked off No. 25 Bates. The next intrigue for the ‘CAC and the region will come at Mt. Greylock in two weeks: how many teams will the committee select for nationals? The top four teams from today’s meet, plus national No. 11 MIT, are functionally locks to qualify. Tufts, Bowdoin, and Bates could grab historic at-larges if they finish close to each other and one or more of them cracks the top five.
Homefield Advantage: Middlebury Women Claim NESCAC Title
The No. 3 Middlebury women won their second straight NESCAC title on Saturday morning. It’s their 12th in 17 years, though No. 7 Williams came just nine points away from the third championship tie between the two squads in the last ten years. The Panthers, hosting the meet, beat the Ephs 38-47, and Alison Maxwell was their first individual conference winner since 2000.
Unlike the men’s race, which Williams dominated from top to bottom, the women’s race was eked out on the strength of Middlebury’s front-running. They put four in the top ten (behind Maxwell, Summer Spillane was 2nd, Adrian Walsh 6th, and Katie Carlson 10th), and though Williams put seven runners across before anyone else had five, Olivia Artaiz’s 19th place was good enough to clinch the win for Midd. Walsh’s sixth-place was the exact same amount of points she scored in last year’s meet running for Hamilton.
No. 21 Amherst and unranked Colby set the table for a chaotic regional meet, as both beat national No. 11 Tufts. The Lord Jeffs scored 108, the Mules 121, and the Jumbos 180. Between those five teams and MIT/Wellesley out of the NEWMAC, the New England region will likely qualify six or seven teams to NCAAs.
Washington (Mo.) Men Win Fifth-Straight Title
For the fifth straight year, the No. 13 Washington (Mo.) Bears took home the UAA title on Saturday. For the first time since that streak started in 2010, though, they didn’t have the individual champion. That honor went to George Degan of Carnegie Mellon, who edged out Chicago’s Michael Frasco by just 1.3 seconds.
The Bears put up 37 points for the win, and they did so without defending conference champ Drew Padgett, who sat out but is healthy and will return for the rest of the postseason. With Garrett Patrick leading the way in third, a tight 25-second spread was enough to beat No. 31 Carnegie Mellon. The Tartans beat two teams ahead of them in the national rankings, No. 27 Chicago and No. 28 NYU.
The battle between CMU and Chicago for second came down to, as it so often does, the fourth and fifth runners. The two squads were tied at 22 points through three runners, but Carnegie’s 4/5 finished 15th and 23rd, while Chicago’s were just 25th and 29th.
UW-Eau Claire Men Claim First Title Since 1980; UW-La Crosse Women Repeat
For the first time in the past 34 years, the WIAC men’s title went to a team not named UW-La Crosse, UW-Stevens Point or UW-Oshkosh.
It was national upstart No. 2 UW Eau Claire that took the team title this year, defeating No. 5 UW-La Crosse (the hosts, no less), 36-47. Josh Thorson took the win in 24:24.5 and Ryan Mugan gave the Blugolds a 1-2 sweep as UWEC put four runners in the top 10.
Led by fourth-place Alex Ciesielski, La Crosse ran well as a pack: only 39 seconds separated Ciesielski from UWL’s No. 5 Nate Routhier in 14th.
No. 24 UW-Platteville took third with 99 points for a bit of redemption after a relatively poor run at UW-La Crosse two weekends ago, finished ahead of a pair of teams currently ranked higher nationally in No. 17 UW-Oshkosh and No. 19 UW-Stout.
Oshkosh was fourth with 106 points, while Stout finished fifth with 124.
Individually, Oshkosh’s Jordan Carpenter, Ciesielksi and Platteville’s Ian LaMere rounded out the top five.
As the only nationally ranked team in the field, the No. 13 UW-La Crosse women had no issues dispatching the field for the second year in a row. The Eagles scored 32 points, while UW-Oshkosh narrowly edged UW-Eau Claire, 72-73.
Race winner Laura Mead crossed the line in 22:00 for UWL to lead four Eagles in the top 10, with their No. 5 just behind in 12th. Mead beat UW-Oshkosh’s Kylee Verhasselt to the finish by a full 18 seconds.
FRIDAY FROM THIS POINT ON
Syracuse Men Dominate Once Again
If you (for some reason) needed another look at the Syracuse men to see if they’re for real following their big win at Wisconsin, you probably saw everything you needed to see today at ACCs. The Orange at one point midway through the race were in command of the top five individual spots before eventually crushing unranked NC State (great run for them, by the way), 32-90, for their second ACC title in as many tries.
— Brien Bell (@suxc) October 31, 2014
Martin Hehir took the win for Syracuse, followed by third-place Max Straneva. All told, Cuse had five scorers in the top 11 with eight runners among the top 19 finishers.
— A Runner's Eye (@ARunnersEye) October 31, 2014
Only Hehir and No. 6 runner Colin Bennie finished in the same order on Syracuse’s roster as they did at Wisconsin, but the rest of the top 7 was fluidly stable. Only Dan Lennon moved more than two spots in the lineup, moving up from the No. 7 at Wisco to the No. 5 today.
Who knows what Cuse’s plan was for this race, but its pack begin to break up a bit in the final 2k as other runners snuck through the cracks. Not much of a problem in a 140-runner 8k race in which you’re the clear class of the field; not quite so in a 10k national championship race with twice as many runners.
NC State surprised in a runner-up finish, putting both George Parsons and Graham Crawford in the top five at fourth and fifth, respectively.
Those low sticks were the difference, as No. 28 UNC was strong up front early with several runners in the lead pack but faded late to finish just five points back of NC State.
The biggest disappointment of the day was host No. 13 Virginia, which amassed 121 points as regular low-stick Kyle King finished 28th overall.
No. 15 Florida State didn’t perform up to expectations, either, finishing fifth with 158 points despite seventh-place Tyler Udland leading three finishers in the top 16. Their No. 4 and 5 runners finished 55th and 79th, respectively.
Also of note in the individual race was the Louisville duo of runner-up Ernest Kibet and sixth-place Edwin Kibichiy, who pushed the pace early, fell of said pace, and regrouped for a strong finish.
UNC Upsets Florida State for the Women’s Title; BC’s Westphal Dominates
For the first time since 2006, someone other than Florida State hoisted the ACC women’s team crown. Florida State entered as the slight favorite at No. 12 in the country, though was very vulnerable following poor performances at the Paul Short Run and Wisconsin adidas Invitational.
— Coach Reck (@AngReckart) October 31, 2014
That’s exactly what No. 15 North Carolina did. The Tar Heels scored a meager 57 points behind a pair of top-10 finishers in fourth-place Anne LeHardy and seventh-place Lianne Faber, while six-time reigning champion FSU nearly doubled them with 99.
How dominant was UNC? Not quite as dominant as the Syracuse men, obviously, but consider this: the Tar Heels had the best No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, and No. 6 runners in the field. UNC put all five scorers in the top 20, while only FSU and third-place No. 13 Virginia were able to manage three. Six within the top 25, with no other team having more than four.
FSU ended up with three in the top 15, including runner-up Colleen Quigley – a feat duplicated by Virginia – but high No. 4 and 5 scorers doomed both FSU (99 points) and Virginia (109 points).
Though nothing in the National Coaches Polls or in recent race results indicated UNC would so thoroughly dominate, the rest of the script held relatively to form in that the results were very close. No. 18 NC State was fourth with 119 points, and unranked Notre Dame was fifth with 132.
Just behind Virginia Tech in sixth (161) was a tie between two teams that didn’t perform as well as hoped: No. 30 Boston College and No. 16 Syracuse.
The good news for Boston College? Liv Westphal ran away with the individual ACC crown. After making a decisive move away from the pack at 3k of the 6k race, she was able to hold steady through about 5k before making another big surge to win in 19:43.8, nearly 14 seconds clear of Quigley, who finished runner-up for the second year in a row.
— BC Women's XC/TF (@Eagles_XCTF) October 31, 2014
Westphal now has a big win at the Battle in Beantown, a fourth-place showing in a stacked Wisconsin race, and this ACC title to her credit this year, and has positioned herself as one of the NCAA title contenders.
Behind Quigley were Margo Malone of Syracuse, LeHardy and Molly Seidel of Notre Dame to round out the top five.
As expected, the Arkansas men and women swept the titles Friday morning. Unexpectedly, however, the Razorback men nearly lost for just the third time in the past 24 years.
Behind individual winners Stanley Kebenei , Arkansas was only just able to hold off the upset bid by Ole Miss, 54-60. The Razorbacks had four in the top 10 to Ole Miss’ three, but a 31st-place finish by their No. 5 nearly doomed them.
For Ole Miss, Wes Gallagher finished third overall with six runners inside the top 30. Ole Miss had the lead at 4k, 55-66, over Arkansas, before the Razorbacks put on a big surge over the next 2k (40-69) before again falling off in the final 2k.
Kebenei took down runner-up Ty McCormack of Auburn with a furious kick over the final 2k. The two were running shoulder-to-shoulder at 6k in 17:45 before Kebenei gained nine seconds on McCormack to win in 23:49.3.
Rounding out the top five were Arkansas’ Gabe Gonzales and Missouri’s Tyler Schneider.
— Razorback Track XC (@RazorbackTF) October 31, 2014
It was another day, another win for Arkansas’ women, who won over No. 14 Vandy, 32-85. Two-time SEC champ Dominique Scott and Grace Heymsfield went 1-2 for Arkansas, with all five scoring runners finishing in the top 12.
Tennessee’s Chelsea Blaase, early leader Rhianwedd Price of Mississippi State and Texas A&M’s Hillary Montgomery rounded out the top five.
Pack Running Pays Off for Oregon Women; Houlihan Beats Cranny for the Individual Title
In a clear example of pack running at its finest, the No. 3 Oregon women won their second Pac-12 title in the past three years, scoring 54 points to take down No. 11 Stanford (74), No. 7 Colorado (82) and No. 17 Washington (93 points).
— Pac-12 Networks (@Pac12Networks) October 31, 2014
A scant 11 seconds separated sixth-place finisher Frida Berge (20:25) from the Ducks’ No. 5 finisher Maggie Schmaedick, with Nos. 6 and 7 Megan Patriginelli and Lindsay Crevoiserat just one and seven seconds back, respectively. The latter two have been Oregon’s No. 1 runners at one point this season: Crevoiserat at Washington, and Patriginelli at Pre-Nationals.
In fact, the Ducks’ packs have been all over the place. Take a look at the Ducks’ top 7 at each of their three big races this year:
Of note for Oregon today was the debut of transfer Waverly Neer, who was 10th overall.
While the Ducks employed the pack-running strategy both today and at Pre-Nats two weekends ago, the key difference was that Oregon’s pack ran from the front today. Right from the gun, UO had a pack in the top 10, while at Pre-Nationals their pack had to move up through a thick field in order to secure their runner-up team status.
The question becomes whether or not Oregon can use today’s strategy effectively in a big, crowded race like the NCAA championships.
Stanford bounced back nicely after a disappointing seventh-place finish at Wisconsin with a strong runner-up showing. Still running without injured top 2013 runners Aisling Cuffe and Cami Champus, the Cardinal nonetheless followed individual runner-up Elise Cranny with two more in 13th and 14th, and three more in 21st, 25th and 26th.
Two-thirds through the race, it appeared the runner-up team would, in fact, be Colorado. The Buffaloes surged from 52 points back of leader Oregon in third at 2k (61-113) to 2nd within 10 points at 4k (59-69), before falling back again to 82 by race’s end. Erin Clark finished fourth for the Buffs, who also got a top-10 finish from seventh-place Maddie Alm.
Stanford, meanwhile, held firm at 79, 75 and finally 74 over those splits.
Like Liv Westphal of Boston College in the ACC, Pac-12 winner Shelby Houlihan of Arizona State recorded her second big win of this season, this one coming by five seconds over Cranny and another 13 over third-place Bethan Knights of Cal (two frosh runners in the top three with Cranny and Knights).
— Pac-12 Networks (@Pac12Networks) October 31, 2014
With 2k left in the 6k race, Houlihan led a breakaway group that included Cranny and Washington’s Maddie Meyers. She put on another surge around 5k to shake Cranny and Meyers, which (though Cranny would try unsuccessfully to respond) ultimately sealed her victory.
With a win at Roy Griak, a third-place showing at Wisconsin and this win today, Houlihan is one of the clear favorites to contend for the NCAA title – and is the only woman in the NCAA with wins over both Wisconsin winner Crystal Nelson of Iowa State and Pre-Nats winner Rachel Johnson of Baylor. Those two race tomorrow at the Big 12 Championships.
Rounding out the individual top five after Houlihan, Cranny and Knights were Clark and Meyers.
Colorado Men Stampede the Field; Cheserek Gets another Decisive Win
So in other news, Colorado is still good at cross country.
— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) October 31, 2014
In other news, the sun rose today.
At the very beginning of the race, a UCLA pack took it out extremely hard. While this strategy backfired to the extreme—the Bruins scored 168 points, just 14 points ahead of regional No. 7 Arizona State—you have to appreciate a team actually trying do something in the face of a juggernaut. Then, 15 minutes later, the scores at 6k were astonishingly close. No. 1 Colorado was only beating No. 2 Oregon by nine points. If four Ducks gained a place (one, Ed Cheserek, couldn’t gain a place as he was already in first) and five Buffaloes lost a place, Oregon would win.
Then the sun rose. And Colorado was good at cross country. They did what they do in the last 5 minutes of races: swallowed up everyone else’s bad ideas and silly goals and pulverized them into an impossibly tiny score in agate type. 39-48 at 6k became 30-57 at 8k. Describing what Colorado does at this point requires the passive voice; rather than doing the undignified work of “outkicking” or “beating” people, some disembodied Wetmore Factor floats in the air and scores simply “become.”
Ed Cheserek, Eric Jenkins, and Joe Rosa finished 1-2-3. All three of them have finished in the single digits at an NCAA championship.
Colorado then put five runners between Rosa and Wisconsin winner Maks Korolev (remember, he finished third at NCAAs a year ago) who finished ninth. Connor Winter didn’t even finish in Colorado’s top 5 at Pre-Nationals, but he was fifth in the nation’s best conference today. He was preceded across the line by Blake Theroux, and followed by Ammar Moussa, Pierce Murphy, and Ben Saarel.
The quintet was separated by just 12 seconds. If that performance is replicated at NCAAs, it would be the lowest spread by a winning team in at least the last 25 years.
No. 2 Oregon was led by a quintessential Cheserekian race. The King stayed with the pack ten seconds or so back of UCLA’s Sergey Sushchikh. Then, when he made his move at 5k, the individual race was immediately over.
— Pac-12 Networks (@Pac12Networks) October 31, 2014
Just as impressive was Eric Jenkins’s second-place performance. After finishing three seconds behind Theroux at Pre-Nats, Jenkins beat him today and knocked off Joe Rosa for good measure. Jenkins joins a group with Theroux, Rosa, Korolev, and Villanova’s Pat Tiernan that is going to be battling for second place in Terre Haute.
Rosa and Korolev’s Stanford squad turned in its best performance of the season. Michael Atchoo and Garrett Sweatt (some of the most visceral last names in the game) returned to the form they showed at Washington, and a debuting Sean McGorty bridged the gap between those two and Rosa/Korolev. With 57 points, the No. 9 Cardinal only finished three points short of the No. 2 Ducks.
Georgetown, Coogan Crush the BIG EAST Field; Providence and Butler on the Upswing
Despite the big win over then-No. 1 Michigan at the Pre-National Invitational two weekends ago, we had yet to see No. 2 Georgetown at full strength.
Until today, that is. And they certainly were impressive.
— BIG EAST Champs (@BIGEASTchamps) October 31, 2014
With the addition of Samantha Nadel to their scoring line-up, the Hoyas took five of the top six positions – including individual winner Katrina Coogan – to regain the conference title from last year’s national champion Providence, 19-65.
Coogan took the individual win in 20:31.0 – nine seconds better than the Friars’ Catarina Rocha, who herself finished 12 seconds ahead of a group of four more Georgetown women all within seven seconds of one another.
Only Mara Olson of Butler was able to cross the line before two more GTown runners finished, giving them seven in the top nine. Haley Pierce was third, Nadel fourth, Andrea Keklak fifth and Hannah Neczypor sixth.
Though the conference was stronger last year, we’ll make the comparison anyway: Providence won last year’s Big East title with 28 points before going on to claim the NCAA title.
This year? The only scorer from a year ago to return for the Friars was Rocha in 2nd place (Sarah Collins, last year’s third-place finisher with junior eligibility has not yet debuted, and looks unlikely to do so at this point) as Providence was runner-up as a team.
Considering they entered the third-highest-ranked team in the field behind Georgetown and fourth-place finisher No. 24 Villanova, today was a victory. Plus, these Friars are young: Rocha is a sophomore and she was followed by a frosh in 10th-place Katie Lembo, a junior, another frosh, another junior, yet another frosh and yet another junior. And all seven finished in the top 30.
Another team that righted its sails was Butler. Led by seventh-place Olson, the Bulldogs put five in the top 25 and replicated their third-place finish from a year ago with 82 points.
Last year, the Bulldogs went on to finish third at Nationals; this year, they’d be grateful just to make it to NCAAs after poor performances at Griak and Wisco. A win over No. 23 Villanova (95 points) is a good start, but Butler faces an uphill climb in the Great Lakes Region – currently ranked No. 11 behind five teams in the National Coaches Polls.
Villanova packed up well with seven runners in the top 36, but a lack of any front runners in the top 10 was its downfall.
Villanova Men Debut Full A Squad, Destroy Big East Field
One of the wild cards in the NCAA team race all season long has been the No. 7 Villanova men. Not once this year had the Wildcats raced all of their "A" team together at one time until today’s dominant win at the Big East Championships, 23-51-64, over No. 16 Georgetown and No. 17 Providence.
— BIG EAST Champs (@BIGEASTchamps) October 31, 2014
Just like the first weekend in October at Washington, Patrick Tiernan cruised to a big win, crossing the line on the 8k course in 23:45.8. With a kick, teammates Sam McEntee and Jordan Williamsz joined him six seconds later for a 1-2-3 Nova sweep. McEntee and Williamsz just edged out Butler’s Erik Peterson, who proved once again (after Notre Dame and Pre-Nats) that he’s a threat for All-America honors.
Rounding out Nova’s scoring squad were Robert Denault in sixth and 11th-place Brian Basili (just ahead of 12th-place No. 6 Harry Warnick).
We’ll have to wait until NCAAs to find out how this squad stacks up against the rest of the country’s best, as the top team they’ll face at the Mid-Atlantic Regional in two weekends is…
Georgetown, fresh off a third-place finish at Pre-Nats behind No. 1 Colorado and No. 2 Oregon, impressed once more in a runner-up showing here. Jonathan Green was fifth, Darren Fahy seventh and Scott Carpenter 10th as the Hoyas were able to put seven runners in the top 20 (both Nova and Providence had six each).
Providence‘s depth may have been even more impressive with nine in the top 25. Benjamin Connor was eighth and Shane Quinn was ninth to serve as the Friars’ low sticks, but the Friars’ No. 1 through No. 7 runners were outgunned by those of both Nova and GTown.
New Mexico Men & Women Sweep; Emma Bates Back on Track?
Since 1996, only three programs have managed to knock off a Joe Franklin-coached team for a cross country conference championship. In 1996 and 1997, the Loyola men won the Horizon League over Butler, and the Loyola women did the same in 2000 and 2001. In 2007, Franklin’s first year at New Mexico, the Lobo women lost to Colorado State and the men lost to BYU. The men lost to BYU again the next year. All told, Franklin’s teams have won 31 out of a possible 38 conference championships in the last 19 seasons.
The last 12 of those have come the last six years, as the New Mexico men and women have swept the Mountain West titles every year since 2009 (the women also won the year before).
Today, the No. 18 Lobo men posted their lowest score ever at 26 points. The rest of the conference’s top five was good for just 29.
Running again without their top runner from early October’s Notre Dame Invitational Adam Bitchell, the Lobos were led by Jake Shelley in third-place and a group of four other NM runners in the next five places.
Taking the individual win was Boise State’s David Elliot in 23:38.70, just ahead of Air Force’s Patrick Corona.
The No. 10 Lobo women weren’t quite capable of outpointing the rest of the conference, but they did put in six runners before everyone else’s third, led by Alice Wright in fourth, while usual frontrunner Charlotte Arter was NM’s No. 3 in sixth. They can be forgiven for this massive lapse, as they were racing in a conference that has some serious national hardware.
Boise State’s NCAA 10k champ Emma Bates pulled away late and won her second straight MWC title, with steeple national runner-up Marisa Howard taking second. Could this be the turnaround point for Bates? She finished sixth at both Roy Griak and Wisconsin earlier this season.
In the men’s race, only six points separated second-place Air Force and fourth-place Boise State. In between them was No. 25 Colorado State. Flotrack currently projects the Mountain Region to get six men’s teams to nationals; the battle for those fifth and six spots between regionally ranked No. 5 Southern Utah, No. 6 CSU, and No. 7 Air Force will be spicy.
Boise State’s No. 25-ranked women took second in the women’s race.
All Iona: Clements & Avery Debut
Both the Iona men and women extended their nation-leading conference championships streaks as the men swept the top nine spots for their 24th in a row and the women scored a healthy 20 points to win their 10th in a row.
But the biggest story was who debuted for both teams.
Two weeks ago, the Iona men were runners-up in a stacked Wisconsin field without the services of their top returner from 2013 NCAAs Kieran Clements. He ran today, finishing fourth amongst a pack of Gaels separated by about a second. Though we didn’t see him at top gear, the important part is that we saw him alongside fellow potential low sticks Jake Byrne, Gilbert Kirui and Chartt Miller.
Kate Avery‘s debut was much different. While Clements coasted in a pack with his teammates, Avery put the pedal to the floor with a 19:15.26 performance over 6k to win by nearly two minutes over teammate Tara Jameson in 20:57.82.
After watching Houlihan, Nelson, Johnson, Coogan, Cranny, et al fight amongst one another this year, this serves as a clear notice that Avery will be a force to be reckoned with in November.