RECAP: 2017 Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational

Favorites for the individual titles and team titles at the 2017 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships emerged Friday afternoon at the ninth annual Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational.

With a total of 36 ranked teams and a slew of former All Americans in the field, we knew it would be a great day of racing.

Top-ranked Northern Arizona won the men’s team title, while third-ranked New Mexico nabbed the women’s crown.

Individual accolades went to Syracuse’s Justyn Knight and New Mexico’s Ednah Kurgat. Knight won the individual title last year and is the second man to go back to back (Arizona’s Lawi Lalang in 2011 and 2012). Kurgat clocked the second fastest time in meet history (19:22.8) to lead the Lady Lobos.

2017 Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational

Men’s Standings Pts Women’s Standings Pts
#1 Northern Arizona 50 #3 New Mexico 87
#25 Portland 123 #6 San Francisco 126
#3 Syracuse 151 #7 NC State 169
#4 Stanford 155 #13 Boise State 234
#10 Furman 157 #8 Providence 253
#11 Colorado State 224 #21 Furman 257
#6 Southern Utah 248 #11 Washington 257
#20 UCLA 269 #5 Stanford 292
#25 Michigan 269 #17 Wisconsin 298
#17 Michigan State 271 #20 Minnesota 313

Men’s Race

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Welcome back, Justyn Knight.

Northern Arizona, it’s time to buy some real estate atop the National Coaches’ Poll – because with performances like these, you’re not going anywhere, anytime soon.

Knight outkicked Stanford’s Grant Fisher for the individual title and the Lumberjacks sent three runners across the finish line right behind the debuting duo to rout the team race.

It was eerily similar how Knight, Fisher and the NAU trio of Matthew Baxter, Tyler Day and Andy Trouard raced on Friday. All five of them bided their time through 4K – but when the race hit 6K, that talented quintet was 2-3-4-5-6 behind UCLA’s Robert Brandt.

Eventually Brandt fell off the pace, leaving Baxter, Day, Fisher, Knight and Trouard to duke it out by themselves over the final 2K.

Fisher made the first move on the final homestretch and then Knight answered with his own, which turned out to be the clincher. Knight, who ran his first race since making the final of the 5,000 at the IAAF World Championships, finished in 23:38.9. Fisher was two-tenths of a second behind Knight in 23:39.1.

Trouard, Day and Baxter were third, fourth and fifth to give the Lumberjacks a healthy lead through three runners. When Geordie Beamish and Luis Grijalva crossed the finish line in 17th and 21st, respectively, they could celebrate the dominant victory. NAU totaled 50 points, the fewest since Indiana notched 43 in 2010 and the third fewest in meet history.

Portland came out of nowhere to finish a distant second behind the Lumberjacks. The 25th-ranked Pilots were one of three teams to put three runners in the top-15, led by Jeff Thies (eighth, 23:52.8) and Nick Hauger (ninth, 23:53.2).

No. 3 Syracuse was third in the team standings with 151 points, while No. 4 Stanford (155) and No. 10 Furman (157) rounded out the top-5.

Women’s Race

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Ednah Kurgat put a scare into the 6K course record on Friday the 13th and the rest of her teammates stepped up to make sure the biggest win of her career wouldn’t go for naught.

Kurgat barely missed the standard set by Boise State’s Allie Ostrander in 2015. Ostrander covered the 6K tract in 19:19, while Kurgat romped to her victory in 19:23.2.

New Mexico put three other runners in the top-15 as it cruised to the team title over No. 6 San Francisco, 87-126. The Dons proved to be worthy adversaries to the Lady Lobos on the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course, but the latter’s top-end depth was just too much as USF only had three runners in the top-15 compared to the former’s four.

It appeared to be a two-horse race for the team crown through 4K as multiple runners from New Mexico and San Francisco dotted the top-10. To be more exact, the Lady Lobos and Dons fought for spots No. 2 through No. 10 as Kurgat gapped the field by nine seconds at that stage.

Kurgat extended her lead to the 16-second margin she’d win by over Utah’s Grayson Murphy (19:39.4) and as the rest of the runner filed across the finish line, the team race came into focus.

New Mexico’s Alice Wright (19:45.1) and Charlotte Prouse (19:54.3) finished fourth and seventh, respectively, while Charlotte Taylor (third, 19:40.2) and Weronika Pyzik (fifth, 19:46.2) kept USF in shouting distance.

Weini Kelati was the difference maker for the Lady Lobos as she placed 15th, well ahead of the Dons’ fourth runner (Tatjana Schulte, 53rd).

No. 7 NC State took third in the team standings with 169 points, while 13th-ranked Boise State – led by Ostrander’s ninth-place finish – nabbed fourth. Eighth-ranked Providence was fifth.