MEET RECAP: 2020 NAIA Cross Country Championships

Champions were crowned on Friday at the 2020 NAIA Cross Country Championships!

It was the 65th running of the Men’s Championships and the 41st edition of the Women’s Championships.

The meet was held on the Seminole Valley Cross Country Course in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

2020 NAIA Cross Country Championships – Final Results

Men’s Team
Score
Women’s Team
Score
#3 Taylor (Ind.)
73
#1 St. Francis (Ill.)
111
#1 Huntington (Ind.)
114
#2 College of Idaho
146
#9 Milligan (Tenn.)
127
#3 Taylor (Ind.)
217
#6 Oklahoma City
131
#14 Embry-Riddle (Ariz.)
222
#2 Saint Mary (Kan.)
197
#8 Indiana Wesleyan
235

Men’s Recap

Once Zouhair Talbi took the lead, it was all but over in the race for the individual title in the Men’s Championship 8K.

The same could be said for the Taylor Trojans in the team race.

Talbi, a sophomore from Oklahoma City, cruised to a 20-second victory over teammate Shimales Abebe, as he covered the 8K tract in 23:45.38. It actually turned out to be a Star-studded top-5, as OCU put one more in the mix (Sair Salgado, fourth) to give them three on the day. Hopes of defending their national crown were dashed as the Stars’ next two scoring athletes finished 52nd and 79th.

Taylor (Ind.) might have entered the meet ranked third in the final National Coaches’ Poll, but ran like champions. The Trojans sat runner-up behind ninth-ranked Milligan at the 2-mile split (103-124) and then found their stride over the next mile. Taylor (Ind.) surged into the lead by 44 points at 3 miles thanks to four scoring athletes in the top-15. The Trojans didn’t let up the rest of the way as it won by 41 points over top-ranked Huntington (Ind.), 73-114. Alex Helmuth led Taylor (Ind.) with a fifth-place individual finish.

Women’s Recap

Emma Wilson.

St. Francis (Ill.).

Both proved tops in the field in the Women’s Championship 5K.

Wilson, a sophomore from Huntington (Ind.), romped to the individual title in 17:02.86, winning by nearly 36 seconds. It capped a dominant, undefeated season for Wilson, who also won individual titles at the IWU Twilight Meet, the NAIA Seminole Valley Stampede, the Midwest XC Challenge and the Crossroads League Cross Country Championships by an average of 53 seconds.

The top-ranked Saints showed why they headlined the final National Coaches’ Poll of the regular season. USF put its foot down over the final 1.1 miles as it turned a two-point lead over fifth-ranked Dordt (Iowa) at the 2-mile split into a 35-point victory over second-ranked College of Idaho. The Saints had four individual finishers in the top-30, led by a 13-15-17 effort by Daly Galloway (18:12.71), Katherine Bakken (18:13.99) and Sabrina Baftiri (18:15.14).