Weekend Recaps: NCAA DI Conference Championships
It’s NCAA Division I Conference Championships Weekend! If you missed the action as it unfolded on the USTFCCCA National Results Wall, we’ve got recaps of many of the country’s top league meets here for you.
Chicago may be known as the Windy City, but, at least for Sunday morning’s Big Ten Championships 6K women’s race hosted by Northwestern, it was “upset city”.
Behind a dynamic front four, No. 15 Penn State took down previously unbeaten No. 2 Michigan to win its first conference title since 2009, 53-58. Defending conference and national champion No. 21 Michigan State was third, edging out No. 22 Minnesota, 104-106.
Erin Finn got the individual Big Ten title for Michigan – her second career Big Ten XC title along with her 2013 win – but the Nittany Lions were stronger up front overall with four finishers in the top-12.
Tori Gerlach was fourth overall, followed by Elizabeth Chikotas in sixth, Jillian Hunsberger in ninth and Tessa Barrett in 12th. After nearly slipping out of the top-30 midway through the race, Julie Kocjancic rallied from 28th to 22nd over the final two kilometers to seal the victory.
Michigan likewise got three top-10 finishers from winner Finn – who crossed the line in 19:44.9 five seconds clear of runner-up Alexis Wiersma of Michigan State – and the duo of eighth-place Jaime Phelan and 10th-place Gina Sereno.
Sophie Linn was 18th for U of M, but regular second runner Shannon Osika came through fifth on Michigan’s roster in 21st overall.
Michigan asserted itself early, but by two kilometers it had become apparent that PSU was making a bid to win the title. Gerlach, Barrett, Hunsberger and Chickotas were all top-six through 2K as Penn State took an early 39-55 lead over Michigan.
It had shrunk to 47-51 by the halfway point, and Michigan reclaimed the lead at 4000, 49-53.
Penn State put in another surge with 5000 meters down to lead 49-60 – Chikotas had moved from 10th back to fifth – and they would hold roughly that advantage for the rest of the race.
Vote-receiving Wisconsin finished fifth overall with 139 points, edging No. 30 Purdue’s 149.
Individually, Finn had opened up a significant 12-second lead over Wiersma with just 1000 meters to go, but the Spartan ultimately shaved off more than half that margin by the finish line.
Alyssa Schneider of Illinois was third about 15 seconds behind Finn, followed by Gerlach, Hope Schmelzle of Purdue, Chikotas, Shaelyn Sorensen of Wisconsin, Phelan, Hunsberger and Sereno to round out the individual top-10.
Notably, 2014 national runner-up Sarah Disanza of Wisconsin and the Michigan State All-American duo of Rachele Schulist and Lindsay Clark did not compete.
Hail to the Victors, indeed.
For the first time since 1998 the No. 5 Michigan men claimed the Big Ten cross country team title, seizing the lead early and holding on to beat Illinois, 63-81.
Meanwhile, No. 27 Wisconsin – the winningest program in conference history with 47 league crowns, including 15 of the past 16 – continued its downward spiral with a disastrous eighth-place finish.
Led by Big Ten individual runner-up Mason Ferlic, the Wolverines made their move toward the front by the three-kilometer mark in the eight-kilometer race and maintained their advantage throughout the race.
Matt McClintock of Purdue out-sprinted Ferlic to the line for the individual title, breaking the tape in 23:12.1 for a seven-second win. The two found themselves chasing two-time individual Big Ten champ Malachy Schrobilgen of Wisconsin early in the race, but the Badger came back to the pack by 5000 meters and had completely dropped out by the 6000-meter mark.
Michigan, which also got top-10 individual finishes from eighth-place Ben Flanagan and ninth-place Tony Smoragiewicz, led by nearly 40 points with two kilometers left in the race (43-91 over Illinois at 6K) and were able to survive a too-little-too-late rally from Illinois.
The Illini, led by third-place finisher Dylan Lafond, received votes in the latest national poll but didn’t crack the top-30. A breakthrough into the National Coaches’ Poll is likely forthcoming on Tuesday as Illinois – as well and third-place unranked Minnesota – took down a trio of nationally ranked teams in No. 28 Indiana, No. 19 Michigan State and No. 27 Wisconsin.
Minnesota was third with 98 points, followed closely by Indiana and Michigan State at 112 and 113 points, respectively.
Minnesota, like Illinois, mounted an impressive late comeback. The Golden Gophers went from fifth to third over the final 1000 meters as seventh-place Adam Zutz moved up two spots and 12th-place Aaron Bartnik jumped up seven. In total, the Gophers’ top-five gained 22 spots over the final kilometer.
Despite top-six finishes from fourth-place Rorey Hunter and sixth-place Jason Crist, the No. 28 Hoosiers went from early-race contenders to slowly and consistently losing ground on the Wolverines as the race wore on.
Penn State was sixth with 169 points and Purdue was seventh with 173 points, and the tailspinning No. 27 Wisconsin men came through eighth with 199 points.
Georgetown and Villanova added another thrilling chapter to its storied rivalry.
On a blustery day at the BIG EAST Conference Championships in Cincinnati, Ohio, the 14th-ranked Hoyas edged the 25th-ranked Wildcats for the team title. Georgetown scored 33 points to Villanova’s 34 and won its first league crown since 2008.
Individually, the race went to Patrick Tiernan in record fashion. Not only did Tiernan break the meet record when he crossed the finish line in 22:23.2, but he became the first male runner to win three consecutive titles.
After Tiernan blistered the field, the question became whether or not his teammates would parlay his record day into yet another team title. The Wildcats had won three of past four conference meets and were looking to go back to back.
For Villanova to do that, it needed its fourth and fifth runners to hold off a strong charge by the Hoyas. Well, that just wasn’t going to happen on Saturday. Georgetown put its entire scoring lineup across the finish line before the Wildcats’ fourth runner finished.
The Hoyas, led by Jonathan Green’s runner-up showing, had five runners in the top-10. Scott Carpenter (sixth), Darren Fahy (seventh), Amos Bartelsmeyer (eighth) and Ahmed Bile (10th) were all within eight seconds of each other.
Like most other meets this season, Villanova had three runners in the top-5. Robert Denault (fourth) and Jordy Williamsz (fifth) joined Tiernan in that club.
Tiernan’s record effort was helped by Butler’s Erik Peterson, who took the race out early. Peterson eventually finished third.
Providence’s Julian Oakley took ninth and helped the 24th-ranked Friars to a third-place team showing.
There was no stopping No. 6 Providence – or Sarah Collins – on Saturday.
The Friars followed the example set by Collins and steamrolled the field at the BIG EAST Conference Championships. Collins ran away with the individual title and Providence scored 26 points, matching the lowest team score in the past five years.
At the 3K mark, it was a two-woman race between Collins and Georgetown’s Kennedy Weisner. Then Collins dropped the hammer and broke the race wide-open. Collins hit a big negative split (10:13/9:19) and finished in 19:32, 21 seconds ahead of second place.
The Friars made sure Collins’ effort wouldn’t go to waste and put three other runners in the top-10 – Lauren Mullins (second, 19:47.4), Katie Lembo (third, 19:50.6) and Catarina Rocha (sixth, 20:00.3).
No other team could match Providence’s firepower, but the 18th-ranked Hoyas tried. Andrea Keklak (fifth), Autumn Eastman (seventh) and Haley Pierce (eighth) all finished in the top-10. Weisner faded all the way back to 27th.
Third place went to No. 28 Villanova. The Wildcats saw Bella Burda (fourth) and Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (ninth) finish in the top-10.
Marquette’s Brittney Feivor finished 10th in 20:07.1.
We didn’t know much about the No. 6 Oklahoma State men entering Saturday’s Big 12 Championships – after all, the Cowboys didn’t compete in any large invitationals during the regular season – but we learned at the very least that they were good enough on this day to win their eighth consecutive conference title.
Facing a field headlined by in-state rival vote-receiving Oklahoma, the Cowboys rode to a decisive 28-50 win over the Sooners behind individual league champion Vegard Oelstad. Texas was third with 83 points while Iowa State was fourth at 93.
We’ll learn more about the Cowboys as they face many of these teams in two weekends at the Midwest Regionals as they face many of these same squads along with nationally ranked Tulsa and Illinois squads.
Oelstad – a former runner-up at the NCAA Division II XC Championships for Western State – was among a five-man breakaway through five kilometers with his teammate Cerake Geberkidane as his Cowboys held a slim advantage over OU and Texas, 46-52-65.
Oelstad and Oklahoma’s runner-up Jacob Burcham emerged from the breakaway for a sprint down the finish chute, with the former DII stud edging Burcham by one second in 23:58.9.
But the spark for the Cowboys down the stretch was returning All-American Craig Nowak, who went from 17th to sixth over the final three kilometers. Nowak‘s finish is a positive indication that his recovery from a minor early-season injury is going well.
Nowak was the third of five Cowboys among the top-10 individual finishers, behind winner Oelstad and third-place Geberkidane and ahead of eighth-place NCAA outdoor 1500 champ Chad Noelle and 10th-place Joshua Thompson. Expected scorer Brian Gohlke was their sixth man in 21st.
Oklahoma went 2-4 with Burcham and Brandon Doughty, with all five scorers in the top-20.
Texas got a ninth-place finish from Brady Turnbull as all five of its runners in the top-25.
Halloween Saturday may have only just started in Stillwater, Oklahoma, by the time the time the Big 12 Championships concluded, but celebrations for the host Oklahoma State Cowgirls had begun for an entirely different reason.
No. 23 OSU – appropriately clad in orange and black – upset No. 11 Iowa State, 34-52, in the 6K Championship race to capture their first-ever Big 12 team title in women’s program history.
Iowa State (still running without Bethanie Brown and this time without Becky Straw) may have struck first with a 1-2 finish from Perez Rotich and Erin Hooker, but the Cowgirls responded in kind with a 3-4 finish from Ingeborg Loevnes and Kaela Edwards – followed by four more runners in the top 14 before the Cyclones could even manage a third woman across the finish line.
Natalie Baker was sixth overall for OSU and Anna Boyert was ninth, followed by Aurora Dybedokken in 12th to round out the scoring lineup – all of which was separated by a mere 20.5 seconds.
That quintet was able to finally get OSU over the hump and atop the podium as conference champions after three previous runner-up finishes in 2001, 2005 and 2012.
Making the victory even more impressive is the fact that the Cowgirls’ stampeded to the top of the standings after coming through the halfway split (three-kilometers) in third behind Iowa State and Kansas, 63-73-80. OSU went from not having any women inside the top-10 at 3K to putting four across the line in the top-10 by race’s end.
For Iowa State, Rotich crossed the line first in 20:47.9, just a second ahead of teammate Hooker and about three seconds ahead of the OSU duo of Loevnes and Edwards. The Cyclones waited until 15th and 16th for their third and fourth runners in Abby Caldwell and Evelyne Guay, and until 18th for their No. 5.
Running without All-American Jillian Forsey, West Virginia was a respectable third place with 118 points, just ahead of Kansas at 129. Oklahoma rounded out the top five at 152. Vote-receiving Baylor got a fifth-place finish from Maggie Montoya but finished eighth overall with only one other runner inside the top 50.
Also finishing top-10 individually from beyond those aforementioned squads were seventh-place Jocelyn Caro of Texas Tech, eighth-place Brittany Tretbar of Oklahoma and 10th-place Morgan Wedekind of Kansas State.
Both No. 1 Colorado and No. 23 Stanford had questions to answer – albeit very different questions – heading into these Pac-12 Championships, and both aced their respective tests.
There were no depth issues for two-time defending national champion Colorado this week as the Buffaloes put four in the top-15 to top Stanford –running its “A” squad for the first time this year – 46-57.
No. 3 Oregon finished a not-too-distant third with 83 points behind three-time-defending conference champ Edward Cheserek, though they were closer to fourth-place No. 20 Washington’s 96 points than to Stanford.
No. 15 UCLA (127 points) was fifth, unranked Washington State (137) was sixth, and No. 21 California (157) was seventh.
For Colorado – who were solid through four runners at the Pre-National Invitational but struggled in the No. 5 spot – depth was no longer an issue. Frosh John Dressel, their "problematic" No. 5 at Pre-Nats, was the Buffaloes’ second runner today in Colfax with a breakthrough sixth-place overall finish, just behind Pierce Murphy in fourth.
Just behind Dressel in seventh was Ammar Moussa, with Morgan Pearson and Connor Winter rounding out the scoring lineup in 14th and 15th places, respectively.
Stanford’s questions didn’t revolve around depth, but rather the fact that it simply hadn’t fielded its full “A” squad at any point this year. With its full lineup on the course, the Cardinal looked much closer to its preseason No. 2 rank than its current No. 23 assignment.
Sean McGorty was second overall for Stanford, followed by Joe Rosa in eighth, frosh phenom Grant Fisher in 11th in his collegiate debut (wearing Steven Fahy’s chip), Garrett Sweatt in 16th and Jim Rosa in 20th. It was Jim’s season debut.
Oregon got five top-30 finishes, led by Cheserek’s third consecutive league title – a feat never before accomplished by a Pac-12 man. Next up for the Ducks were 13th-place Travis Neuman and 17th-place frosh Matthew Maton. 24th-place Jake Leingang and 29th-place Matthew Melancon rounded out the scoring lineup, just ahead of Sam Prakel (30th) and transfer Ryan Gil (31st).
Individually, Cheserek crossed the line on the 8K course in 23:06.3, just over seven seconds clear of Stanford’s McGorty.
Washington’s Izaic Yorks was third overall to lead his fourth-place Huskies.
Rounding out the individual top 10 were Murphy of Colorado, Lane Werley of UCLA, Dressel of Colorado, Moussa of Colorado, Rosa of Stanford, John Whelan of Washington State and Chris Walden of Cal.
For the majority of Friday morning’s Pac-12 Championships women’s 6K race, it looked as though the No. 5 Oregon Ducks were going to win their third Pac-12 title in the past four seasons and their second in a row.
It was early, but through three kilometers they had a 35-point edge over No. 10 Stanford. At 4K it was a 30-point margin over No. 3 Colorado. Even with just a kilometer to go, the Ducks still held a 13-point edge over the Buffaloes.
But a lot can happen in just 1000 meters.
What happened was that Colorado put four runners across the finish line among the top-10 individual finishers to complete the comeback, 45-51, over the defending Pac-12 champion Ducks and win their first Pac-12 crown since 2011.
It wasn’t Pre-National Invitational winner Erin Clark who led the charge, but rather Kaitlyn Benner who finished runner-up behind individual winner Aisling Cuffe of Stanford, while Clark was fourth overall. Melanie Nun and Maddie Alm were seventh and eighth for Colorado to survive a 24th-place finish from their No. 5 runner.
As frontloaded as Colorado was through four runners, Oregon was equally as balanced through five. Waverly Neer and Alli Cash were fifth and sixth, respectively, while Molly Grabill, Frida Berge and Maggie Schmaedick came through in 11th, 14th and 15th – all within 25.1 seconds of one another.
No. 10 Stanford finished third overall with 80 points, led by individual winner Cuffe, who claimed her second league XC title (2013). Cuffe crossed the line in 19:53.1, just over two seconds clear of Colorado’s Benner.
Running once again without All-American Elise Cranny – who hopes to return by the NCAA Championships – the rest of the Cardinal’s scoring group was between 12th (Vanessa Fraser) and 25th.
No. 12 Washington, led by third-place finisher Maddie Meyers, was just behind with 92 points. No. 19 Utah rounded out the top five with 149 points, led by 10th-place finisher Hannah McInturff.
The lone top-10 individual not belonging to any of those aforementioned schools was ninth-place Carolina Johnson of UCLA.
Welcome to the top of the Mountain (West), Air Force.
The 26th-ranked Falcons edged 30th-ranked Colorado State and 16th-ranked Boise State on their way to the team title at the 2015 Mountain West Conference Cross Country Championships.
New Mexico, a team that had won each of the six previous installments of this meet, finished a distant fifth behind those aforementioned teams and Wyoming.
For Air Force to win, it had to find a way to trump the ultra-low stick Jerrell Mock provided Colorado State. Mock rocketed off the starting line and opened up an insurmountable 14-second gap – his eventual winning margin – on the field.
The Falcons flew together in the chase pack, which offset any additional damage done by the Rams. Patrick Corona and Kyle Eller broke away late to finish second and third, while Dan Caddigan took 10th in 27:01.65. Spencer Keith and Jefferson Abbey were seventh and eighth for Colorado State, but Corona and Eller already gave Air Force enough breathing room to where it didn’t matter.
The Broncos, led by Michael Vennard’s fifth-place finish and Elijah Armstrong in ninth, ran well and would have been contenders if it weren’t for the Falcons and Rams. Boise State put all but one of its runners from its scoring lineup in the top-15.
Two runners from other schools were in the top-10 – Wyoming’s Aaron Derner (fourth) and New Mexico’s Elmar Engholm (sixth).
There was no doubt top-ranked New Mexico would win its eighth consecutive team title and match BYU’s previously unprecedented streak.
The only question was “How low would the Lobos go?” Fifteen points were a possibility if New Mexico’s Formidable Four (Rhona Auckland, Courtney Frerichs, Calli Thackery, Alice Wright) and Molly Renfer found a way to all get ahead of Boise State’s Allie Ostrander and Air Force’s Hannah Everson.
With how Ostrander ran Friday, 15 points were out of the question. Ostrander broke away halfway through the 6K distance and won by 16 seconds in 21:49.97. It was the second consecutive win of her young career. Ostrander set a course record two weeks ago on her way to a victory at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational.
Six of the next seven runners to cross the finish line were Lobos, but Everson’s third-place showing ruined any chance of a near-perfect score of 20 points. Frerichs was second, Wright was fourth, Auckland was fifth, Renfer was sixth, Thackery was seventh and Heleene Tambet took eighth.
New Mexico ended with 24 points, the fewest a team has scored at the meet since the Lobos turned in a 20-point performance in 2010. Ninth-ranked Boise State finished second with 71 points, while Air Force took third with 98.
Rounding out the top-10 individually were Boise State’s Brenna Peloquin (ninth) and Colorado State’s Ali Kallner (10th).
Remember a few months ago when there were many questions surrounding a young preseason No. 17 Arkansas Razorbacks team that graduated multiple All-American Stanley Kebenei? Who’s going to step up and be the leader? Is this the year that Ole Miss rises up and breaks their streak of SEC domination?
As of Friday morning, those questions have been definitively silenced.
The Razorbacks accounted for six of the top-10 individual finishers in College Station, Texas, on Friday, as they crushed runner-up unranked Texas A&M and Ole Miss – the popular preseason pick to win the conference – 25-98-122.
Alabama’s Antibahs Kosgei got the win in 23:24.1, but after that it was almost completely all Arkansas. Christian Heymsfield came across a second behind Kosgei, followed by third-place Frankline Tonui seven seconds later.
The duo of Alex George and Austen Dalquist were fifth and sixth for Arkansas, with Gabe Gonzales finishing ninth to round out the Hogs’ scoring line-up just ahead of 10th-place teammate Jack Bruce.
Rounding out the remaining top-10 individual spots were fourth-place Jacob Thomson of Kentucky, seventh-place Jimmy Clark of Florida and eighth-place Cameron Villareal of Texas A&M.
Villareal led an A&M squad that posted its highest SEC finish since joining the conference in 2012. Combined with Villareal, top-15 teammates Alex Riba and Austin Wells in 13th and 14th were enough to hold off third-place Ole Miss.
The Rebels continued a disappointing season as Sean Tobin was 15th and Craig Engels was 16th. MJ Erb, the projected top scorer for Ole Miss after earning All-America honors last year at Syracuse, was last-place in 114th.
Ole Miss still has one more chance to get its 2015 campaign on track as it looks to defend its South Region title in two weekends.
Kentucky also nearly picked off Ole Miss, finishing fourth just seven points back at 129.
No one in the SEC has been able to stop either Arkansas women or their leader Dominique Scott over the past two seasons, and that trend continued into a third consecutive year in College Station, Texas, on Friday.
Scott took the individual SEC Championships title for the third year in a row by an impressive 17 seconds over All-American Chelsea Blaase of Tennessee as her No. 4 Razorbacks scored 38 points to take their third-sraight SEC team title over No. 13 Mississippi State (95 points) and No. 26 Vanderbilt (112).
Scott blew the race wide open in the final 2K, going from amidst a small pack just after 4K to a decisive double-digit win over Blaase in 19:23.5.
Behind her, her teammates went 6-8-11-12-13-20 to account for more than a third of the overall top-20 finishers. It was Kaitlin Flattmann in sixth, followed by Devin Clark in eighth and the trio of Valerie Reina, Regan Ward and Kelsey Schrader in 11-12-13.
They didn’t quite match their 32-point total from the past two seasons, but maintained an equivalent margin of victory over an arguably more difficult field.
No. 13 Mississippi State notched its best-ever finish as Marta Freitas was ninth overall, followed by Cornelia Griesche in 17th and former ALl-American Rhianwedd Price leading a trio of runners in 22-23-24 to round out the scoring five.
No. 26 Vandy wasn’t too far behind, led by third-place frosh Caroline Pietrzyk. Carmen Carlos was 19th with the remainder of their top seven packed up between 26th and 40th.
Behind Scott, Blaase and Pietrzyk in the individual race, it was Brenda Kigen of Auburn in fourth, Karis Jochen of Texas A&M in fifth, Flattmann in sixth, Katelyn Greenleaf of Alabama in seventh, Clark in eighth, Freitas in ninth and Mary Alex England of Ole Miss in 10th.
Columbia and Pennsylvania sure put on a show on Friday.
Under clear skies at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, the Lions and Quakers went back and forth with the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships title hanging in the balance.
When the dust settled, No. 17 Columbia edged No. 29 Penn and won its first conference title since 2013. Not to be outdone, this was the Quakers’ best finish in the league since they were runner-ups in 1974.
Pack running proved to be the difference for the Lions.
While Penn got the all-important low stick from Thomas Awad, who was the first back-to-back champion since Dartmouth’s Ben True in 2005-06, the Quakers didn’t have another runner in the top-10. Columbia, on the other hand, put three in the top-10 – Aubrey Myjer (third), Jack Boyle (seventh) and Tait Rutherford (ninth).
For most of the race, it appeared as if the team title was the Lions’ to lose. It was also evident that Penn had to work its way back up the field.
At 2K, the Quakers were in fifth place with 111 points. Then at 4K, Penn moved up to second behind Columbia (44-74). At the final split before the finish (7K), the Quakers fell back to third. A few strong kicks put Penn within striking distance of the Lions late.
With 1K to go, Awad and Cornell’s Ben Rainero were neck and neck. Yale’s Kevin Dooney was four seconds behind with Myjer and Dartmouth’s Brian Masterson flanked by his side.
Awad pulled away to get the win by three seconds over Dooney, who made a late move. Myjer worked his way up to third and he was followed by Rainero in fourth. Yale’s James Randon, Masterson, Boyle, Cornell’s Brian Eimstad, Rutherford and Princeton’s Michael Sublette rounded out the top-10.
Princeton is back on top of the Ivy League for the first time since 2010.
Thanks to three runners in the top-10, including a win by junior Elizabeth Bird, the 20th-ranked Tigers ran away with the women’s team title. Princeton scored 60 points, well ahead of runner-up Yale’s 83 and 25th-ranked Columbia (third, 94).
Through 3K, it looked as if the Tigers would have some competition from the Lions. Princeton and Columbia both had three runners in the top-11. The Tigers had the leg up with Bird in second and Emily De La Bruyere and Kathryn Fluehr in sixth and seventh, respectively.
By 5K, Bird took the lead and De La Bruyere and Fluehr both moved up to the top-5. The Lions only had one runner in the top-10 at that stage.
Bird held on for the win in 17:59.3, six seconds ahead of runner-up Courtney Smith of Harvard (18:05.2). Dartmouth’s Dana Giordano took third (18:07.4) and she was followed by De La Bruyere (18:11.6) and Fluehr (18:13.6).
Rounding out the top-10 were Penn’s Ashley Montgomery, Columbia’s Olivia Sadler, Yale’s Dana Klein, Yale’s Frances Schmiede and Cornell’s Taylor Spillane.
As expected, No. 2 Syracuse was the decisive victor for its third consecutive ACC title (and fourth league title in a row dating back to the Big EAST), but it wasn’t as easy as many expected.
Sure, the Orange were clear winners over No. 12 NC State and No. 7 Virginia, 46-95-115, and sure, the trio of Justyn Knight, Colin Bennie and Martin Hehir were phenomenal in 2nd, 4th and 5th. But Syracuse still appears to have some issues with depth to work out – a fact head coach Chris Fox admitted during the post-race interview on the ESPN3 broadcast.
Philo Germano was their No. 4 runner in 15th, followed by 2014 near-All-American Dan Lennon in 20th – 25 seconds and 36 seconds behind Hehir, respectively. Usual No. 4 Joel Hubbard also had an off day in 35th as their No. 7 runner.
A tight team race unfolded behind Syracuse, as only 35 points separated runner-up No. 12 NC State from unranked Louisville in fifth.
Led by seventh-place George Parsons and ninth-place Meron Simon– both of whom patiently worked their way through the field – the Pack had four top-20 finishers.
No. 7 Virginia was third with 115 points and five top-40 finishers, No. 18 Virginia Tech was fourth with 120 points and winner Thomas Curtin leading an exceptionally deep group of seven runners in the top-45, and unranked Louisville was fifth with four runners in the top-20.
With less than a kilometer left to go in the race, it looked as though Syracuse’s Knight would take the individual title as he made a move ahead of Curtin. Curtin, who won the Pre-National Invitational in a runaway two weekends ago, showed that he can also win a kickers’ race as he overtook Knight in the final quarter mile for the victory.
He crossed the line in 23:23.0, followed 1.3 seconds later by Knight. This was the second race in a row Knight saw a win slip away in the closing meters, as he was overtaken by Tulsa’s Marc Scott at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational two weekends ago.
After leading late in the race, Louisville’s Edwin Kibichiy was third, followed by Bennie and Hehir.
Shaun Thompson of Duke was sixth, Simon of NC State was seventh, Chase Weaverling of Virginia was eighth, Parsons of NC State was ninth and Henry Wynne of Virginia rounded out the top-10.
Virginia proved the old axiom true of “It’s now how you start. It’s how you finish.”
Through the first 5K of the women’s race of the ACC Championships, the seventh-ranked Cavaliers trailed eighth-ranked NC State by a small margin.
With the individual race already decided as Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel pulled away at the 3K mark, the focus was on Virginia and the Wolfpack.
The Cavaliers, led by Cleo Boyd and Iona Lake, reeled in NC State and captured their first ACC title since 1982. Virginia finished with 67 points to the Wolfpack’s 71.
It was at the 5K split where NC State led the Cavaliers 58-73. The Wolfpack had three runners in the top-10 (Ryen Frazier, Rachel Koon and Samantha George) while Boyd was the only Cavalier runner in the mix.
Soon after Lake began to work her way up the pack and outkicked North Carolina’s Caroline Alcorta to secure 11th place. George faded from 10th to 26th.
No one was going to catch Seidel on Friday, though. Seidel was in a pack of six runners at the 3K mark and then broke away. She opened up an 18-second lead by 5K and won by 32 seconds over teammate Anna Rohrer.
Rounding out the top-10 were Syracuse’s Margo Malone, Boyd (fourth), Frazier (fifth), Wake Forest’s Samantha Jones (sixth), Koon (seventh), Boston College’s Isabelle Kennedy (eighth), Florida State’s Carmela CardamaBaez and Clemson’s Grace Barnett (10th).
The team standings went as expected – if the latest National Coaches’ Poll had any say. Virginia and NC State were followed by No. 17 Notre Dame, No. 16 Syracuse and No. 29 North Carolina.