NCAA DI Championships: Historic Achievements and Upsets Rule the Day

NCAA DI Championships: Historic Achievements and Upsets Rule the Day

LOUISVILLE – History from all sorts of angles was made Saturday at the 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.

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The No. 1 New Mexico women cemented their position as one of the best women’s cross country teams of all time, the No. 2 Syracuse men dethroned two-time defending national champion No. 1 Colorado for their gender’s title, Edward Cheserek of Oregon became the first man in DI history to win three consecutive individual titles and Molly Seidel of Notre Dame became the first former high school Foot Locker Champion to win the women’s individual crown.


New Mexico wins historically dominant women’s team title

New Mexico scored a svelte 49 points to top No. 2 Colorado’s runner-up total of 129 by 80 points. Led by five All-Americans including back-to-back fourth- and fifth-place finishes from Courtney Frerichs and Alice Wright, the Lobos’ score is the third-lowest in Championships history and the lowest since Virginia scored 48 in the second-ever NCAA women’s race in 1982.

Their 80-point margin of victory is the fifth-best in meet history, and the best since Colorado’s 81 in 2004.

No. 5 Oregon was third with 214 points and No. 4 Providence was fourth to round out the podium. Pre-meet No. 3 Arkansas was ninth.

Syracuse upsets two-time defending champ Colorado

Syracuse pulled the upset over Colorado with an 82-91 result, holding off the Buffaloes with a late charge over the final two kilometers. The Orange led at 2000m and 5200m, but found themselves tied with the two-time defending champion No. 1 Buffaloes with just two kilometers left in the 10K race, 99-99.

Syracuse may have had three in the top-10 with fourth-place Justyn Knight, eighth-place Colin Bennie and ninth-place Martin Hehir – all of whom were projected to combine for the meet’s best 1-2-3 punch – but the heroes of the Orange’s first NCAA title since 1951 were Cuse’s  often-inconsistent No. 4 and 5 runners.

Philo Germano moved up 14 spots in the final 2k to finish 39th as an All-American, while 47th-place Joel Hubbard climbed four spots in the final 2000 meters to help clinch the win.

Colorado, which had four in the top-25 – and three in the top-10 – to win the title a year ago, only managed to put third-place Pierce Murphy across the line that early this year, with the rest of their scoring line-up between 25th and 33rd. Frosh John Dressel and now three-time All-American Ben Saarel made strong moves of 15 spots and 19 spots, respectively, but it wasn’t enough to catch the Orange.

No. 3 Stanford was third with 151 points, followed by No. 9 Oregon with 183. Pre-meet No. 4 Oklahoma State was 18th.

Cheserek wins historic third consecutive individual national title

Henry Rono, Gerry Lindgren and Steve Prefontaine all won three individual men’s cross country titles during their careers, but none of them did was Cheserek accomplished today: winning three in a row. It didn’t come easy for the junior, who was tested early and often by eventual runner-up Patrick Tiernan of Villanova.

Cheserek crossed the line in 28:45.8 – nearly 26 seconds clear of the Aussie Wildcat – but Tiernan played the role of keeping the pace honest from the very beginning. The two broke away early with Knight of Syracuse and Anthony Rotich of UTEP, but by 5000 meters it was down to just Ches and Tiernan. Three kilometers later, the duo had opened up a 42-second lead over the chase pack. That’s where Cheserek made his move – in a similar location to where he made his winning move in Terre Haute a year ago – to eventually clinch his ninth career individual NCAA title between XC and track.

Murphy of Colorado was eventually third, followed by Knight, Jonathan Green of Georgetown, Jim Rosa of Stanford, Sean McGorty of Stanford, Bennie, Hehir and Marc Scott to round out the top-10.

Seidel tops frosh phenom Ostrander for women’s individual title

For the longest time in the women’s race it looked like we might see a repeat of October’s Wisconsin adidas Invitational. Late in the race it had come down frosh phenom Allie Ostrander of Boise State, NCAA 10K champ Seidel and Arkansas’ Dominique Scott.

It was Ostrander who broke away from those two in Madison, but Louisville belonged to Seidel. She pulled away first from Scott and then from Ostrander in the final kilometer to cross the line in 19:28.6, five seconds clear of Ostrander and 12 ahead of Scott.

Frerichs and Wright of New Mexico came in fourth and fifth, followed by Seidel’s own teammate in frosh Anna Rohrer, Furman’s Allie Buchalski, Washington’s Maddie Meyers, Ostrander’s fellow frosh teammate Breanna Peloquin, and Kansas’ Sharon Lokedi.

Stay tuned to throughout the afternoon for more reaction from the meet.