NCAA Div 1: Big Surprises! by Walt Murphy, Note by Larry Eder


Cross country is a race where middle distance runners can challenge their limits. And, you are only as good as your last race. Oklahoma won with German Fernandez as fifth man! Villanova won the womens and Jenny Barringer collapsed, finished 143rd!

It both cases at the NCAA Div 1, Oklahoma and Villanova had to dig down and fight to the end. That is why cross country is such a team sport!

Lots of surprises at today's NCAA Div.I Championships

Complete results at:
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In the men's race, Liberty junior Sam Chelanga, 2nd to Galen Rupp a year ago, ran away from the field early and won going away in a blazing 28:41.3. It's always difficult to compare cross country times from different courses, but Chelanga's winning time is the fastest since the great Henry Rono ran 28:19.6 30-years ago in 1979.

Oklahoma State(127), despite getting a 97th-place finish from German Fernandez, won the men's team title over Oregon(143), which rebounded from a 3rd-place finish at the West Regional, Alabama(173) and Northern Arizona(190). Favored Stanford(354) finished a disappointing 10th.

2008 Olympian Jenny Barringer, who had finished 2nd to Sally Kipyego at this meet in 2006 and 2007, passed up a potentially lucrative professional contract in order to pursue her goal of winning an individual x-country title. She was a heavy favorite coming into this year's race, but was facing an equally hungry Susan Kuijken of Florida State(2nd-2008, 3rd-2007). The two were battling each other through the first half of the race when Barringer suddenly broke stride and seemed ready to stop running. She continued on, but kept falling further away from Kuijken. Still struggling as other runners went by her, Barringer did come to a stop and collapsed to the ground. Perhaps thinking about her team, she got up and actually finished well, passing a couple of dozen runners in the last 100-meters, but she only finished 163rd. She offered no explanation after the race, other than to say she "didn't feel well", but was quoted on the Colorado website as saying that “the pressure got to her.”

Meanwhile, it looked like Kuijken (19:57.7) was well on her way to winning her first x-country title, but she ran into her own problems, fading to 3rd in the last 1/4-mile as she was passed by Illinois' Angela Bizzarri, the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Champion at 5000-meters, who went on to win in 19:46.8, and Washington's Kendra Schaff, who finished 2nd in 19:51.6.

Kuijken's 3rd-place finish did help Florida State(133) finish 2nd in the team battle behind Villanova(86), which won its 8th title(a record) and its first since 1998. Defending champion Washington(188) finished 3rd, followed by Texas Tech(191).

Special thanks for the NCAA coverage to Walt Murphy! For more on
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