NCAA DII Championships Recap: All Upsets, All the Time
JOPLIN, Missouri – It was all upsets, all the time Saturday at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships.
First, Alexis Zeis of U-Mary outleaned defending national champion Kendra Foley of Grand Valley State at the line in the closest race of the 6K championships era (since 1998).
Then it was announced that No. 2 Adams State had topped three-time defending national champion No. 1 Grand Valley for the team title.
Then unheralded Alfred Chelanga of Shorter scored a decisive win in the men’s individual race over several well-established contenders.
The madness concluded with Colorado Mines – ranked No. 4 in the country entering the day – upsetting not just one but two No. 1 teams in co-favorites Adams State – the three-time defending national champions – and Grand Valley State for the men’s title.
Whew. Where to start?
Adams State took the women’s title win over GVSU, 83-97, for its first national crown since the last of seven in a row in 2009. The Grizzlies put three in the top 15 with 10th-place Noel Prandoni, 11th-place Jenna Thurman and 14th-place Maura O’Brien. All five ASU scorers earned top-40 All-America honors.
No. 3 Hillsdale finished third with 140 points and No. 4 Chico State was fourth with 212 points to round out the podium.
The Colorado Mines men made it an RMAC sweep just over an hour later by winning their first-ever national title, 100-127 over co-No .1 Adams State. The Orediggers didn’t have a top-15 finisher, but the pack of Marty Andrie, Nathanael Williams and Dan Mahoney all finished between 18th and 22nd, with Grant Colligan also coming through for All-America honors in 33rd.
No. 3 Alaska Anchorage wasn’t too far behind in third with 138 points, followed by pre-meet co-favorite Grand Valley State narrowly edging No. 10 Shippensburg for the fourth and final podium spot, 210-224.
Individually, Zeis crossed the line in 20:03.4 to narrowly edge out Foley in 20:03.7. Never before had an NCAA DII women’s race been decided by fewer than three seconds. Additionally, Zeis capped an undefeated season by becoming the second U-Mary runner in the past three seasons to claim the individual title, following Jennifer Agnew from 2013.
Amanda Farrough of Lewis came through just three seconds later in third, followed by Kelsey Bruce of Dallas Baptist in fourth and Emily Roberts of Southern Indiana in fifth.
Chelanga followed up his Gulf South Conference and South Region titles with a 10K win Saturday in Joplin by nine seconds over Vincent Kiprop of Missouri Southern, crossing the line in 29:24.6. The win was of the come-from-behind variety: he sat 40th overall just 2K into the race before making a move about halfway through the race that ultimately gave him the lead with 3K to go.
Henry Cheseto of Alaska Anchorage was third overall, followed by Keifer Johnson of Western State and Zach Panning of Grand Valley State. Chelanga, Kiprop and Panning are all freshmen by eligibility; Cheseto is a sophomore and Johnson is a junior.