The NCAA Division 1 Championships are in Terre Haute, Indiana, and the rain of the last two days has made the course a wonderful excuse for real cross country running. Cross country is about strength, endurance and guts. It is not a track race on nicely cut grass.
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (23-Nov) – After two rainy days, the sun is finally out here in the Wabash Valley on the morning of the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. But temperatures have dropped significantly, and forecasters say that it will be only around the freezing mark for the noon start of the men’s 10-kilometer race followed closely by the women’s 6-K. The sometimes heavy rains have left both large puddles and mud on the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, and organizers have dumped tons of sand to dry it in some spots.
Athletes shared their thoughts on the difficult course and weather conditions at yesterday’s press conference here, and some are embracing them.
“It feels good to have the meet back in Terre Haute,” said John Mascari the Indiana State sophomore who won both the Missouri Valley Conference and Great Lake Region cross country titles this year. “It feels like a cross country course. It will definitely bring out the toughness in us.”
Northern Arizona sophomore Futsum Zienasellassie, who competed against Mascari during his high school years in Indiana, agreed.
“It’s going to be great racing in it,” he said of the mud. He continued: “I was bummed that it wasn’t here last year.”
Stanford’s Aisling Cuffe, who placed second on this course in dry conditions at the NCAA Division I Pre-Nationals here on October 19, agreed with Mascari and Zienasellassie.
“It’s going to be like real cross country,” said Cuffe, who grew up in Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y. She also said that whatever the conditions, she and her teammates were here to win. “My teammates and I have been waiting for this throughout the entire season,” she added.
Karen Harvey and her Florida State women’s team said that their hours of weight training this season should help them run better in the mud and also be less sore after the race.
“It takes a village to get our athletes here,” said Harvey, who finished fifth in the steeplechase at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. She continued: “I said to my weight coach, ‘thank you,’ when I left.”
Harvey’s top athlete, Colleen Quigley, backed up her coach. “We lift weights and do all those kind of things,” said Quigley, who is also a professional model. She was optimistic about her team’s chances. “Just to be ranked in the top-5 means you have a shot to win,” she said.
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In the men’s competition, 387 athletes representing 66 schools will take part. The women’s race has 375 athletes from 69 schools. Team scoring is based overall finish position, and the top-5 athletes from each team score. The defending team champions are Oklahoma State on the men’s side, and Oregon on the women’s. Texas Tech’s Kennedy Kithuka is the defending men’s champion, while last year’s women’s champion Betsy Saina (Iowa State) has graduated. Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino is the highest-placing returner from last year; she finished second.
Recent Championships History:
Recent Team Champions (Men):
2012 – Oklahoma State, 72 points
2011 – Wisconsin, 97
2010 – Oklahoma State, 73
2009 – Oklahoma State, 127
2008 – Oregon, 93
2007 – Oregon, 85
Recent Individual Champions (Men):
2012 – Kennedy Kithuka, Texas Tech
2011 – Lawli Lalang, Arizona
2010 – Sam Chelanga, Liberty
2009 – Sam Chelanga, Liberty
2008 – Galen Rupp, Oregon
2007 – Josh McDougal, Liberty
Recent Team Champions (Women):
2012 – Oregon, 114 points
2011 – Georgetown, 162
2010 – Villanova, 120
2009 – Villanova, 86
2008 – Washington, 79
2007 – Stanford, 145
Recent Individual Champions (Women):
2012 – Betsy Saina, Iowa State
2011 – Sheila Reid, Villanova
2010 – Sheila Reid, Villanova
2009 – Angela Bizzarri, Illinois
2008 – Sally Kipyego, Texas Tech
2007 – Sally Kipyego, Texas Tech
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