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October 30, 2017

Everything You Need To Know From A Wild Conference Championship Weekend

A lot of great performances went down over the weekend so let’s unpack it all…

BYU is perfect

A lot of people, including Isaac Wood (but that’s expected), are high on the Cougars’ chances of winning the NCAA cross country title and they had as great of a showing as they could’ve had on Friday. They went 1-2-3-4-5 for the perfect score of 15 but I think that the main thing we should remember from it is that Portland didn’t run some of its top guys. It’s just been a series of statement victories by BYU over the course of the season and they’ll have a chance to do it once more at the regional championship. Head coach Ed Eyestone pointed out that Daniel Carney, who was the second man across the finish line in the bunch that went 2-3-4-5 behind Connor McMillan, could be the person that the championship rests on. Isaac wrote that he think it’s Clayton Young. We’ll see how the regional championship shakes out but that just continues to show this team’s depth.

Charlotte Taylor, last year’s NCAA outdoor 10,000m champion, claimed the women’s individual crown and led San Francisco to the team title. I was texting Isaac and he thinks they could surprise some people at Nationals, especially since we’re looking at it as a Colorado vs. New Mexico vs. Oregon race.

Stunners in Springfield

The biggest women’s showdown came at the PAC 12 Championships in Springfield, Oregon. In the individual race, Katie Rainsberger maybe made the mistake of leaving this race to a kick and Dani Jones capitalized. Jones took the win and led the Buffaloes to their third consecutive team title. Oregon and Stanford tied for second with 71 points each but the tie went to the Ducks based off the placing of the top three finishers. Alli Cash, who we figured could be a major player for the Ducks, did not end up racing.

In the men’s race, Stanford pulled off the victory and ended Colorado’s conference championship streak. Grant Fisher, took the victory in 23:44.9 to cross the finish line eight seconds ahead of Joe Klecker. Fisher became the first Cardinal to win there since Elliott Heath in 2010. Steven Fahy and Alex Ostberg going 3-4 for a six-point victory over Colorado. All of Stanford’s scorers finished in the top 18. I believe Stanford was fourth in Isaac’s preseason projections and took a little fall to eighth. After Pac-12s, maybe you could swap them and Colorado at No. 6 but what do I know – I don’t make the rankings.

Major kudos in this race to Mahmoud Moussa, brother of CITIUS MAG’s own Ammar Moussa, for his fifth place finish. It was a surprise to many to see him up with the leaders in the late stages of the race. He now owns bragging rights for the best finish at Pac-12s so Thanksgiving dinner should be fun.

Taking Care of Business

This was just unfair to everyone else. Syracuse just absolutely destroyed the rest of the ACC, which led to this tweet:

Just pure awesome. Justyn Knight won the individual race. All of the five scorers finished in the top 9. Syracuse captured its fifth consecutive team title. They set a record for lowest point total at any conference championship in their school history. Chris Fox has these men primed for Louisville.

On the women’s side, I’d love to see a photo of all the 23 ACC conference championship trophies by the women. I like this little note that an SB Nation blogger mentioned: “The Wolfpack’s ninth runner beat the fifth scorer from every other team.”

And for Syracuse, Paige Stoner took the individual crown for them.

Heps Talk

The Heps banter on Twitter is always great to follow in the week leading up to competition. Remember when the Tampa Bay Rays had that incredible turnaround in 2008 when they went from last to first in the American League East? They didn’t end up winning the World Series but it was a cool sports moment. We’ve got a little story like that on our hands in cross country. The Columbia women finished last in 2016 and then won this year’s championship. Our friends over at Heps Track were on-hand for the race and did some short breakdowns of the men’s and women’s races. Big jumps were made from Nell Crosby from 36th to 4th; Fiona Danieu from 79th to 15th; Bianca Alonzo from 88th to 17th and Sarah Hardie from 48th to 18th.

Harvard, the 2016 champions, tanked and finished last.

In the men’s race, Princeton won with 28 points and Columbia took second with 43 points.

Now Kiprop wins but not enough to down Arkansas

We’re still trying to figure out who is the best of the Alabama Crimson Tri and it seems like we’re down to Vincent Kiprop and Gilbert Kigen. Kiprop won the SEC Championship in 23:15.4 to Kigen’s 23:18.8. Chelanga, who we’ve concluded is very good but just a shade not as good as Kiprop and Kigen, was third in 23:23.4. Having three really good guys won’t win you a conference championship when you’ve got the Arkansas Razorbacks to beat. Coach Chris Bucknam won his eighth consecutive conference title as Alex George took fourth behind the Kenyans and Jack Bruce wasn’t too far behind in sixth. The big and good news for the Razorbacks is that Ronoh is racing again. He’s maybe not where they want him to be at yet but he could be a major player at NCAAs. We’ll see how he fares in the South Central Regional.

Not to be outdone, the Arkansas women captured their fifth consecutive title. That’s 11 consecutive conference titles for them if you include indoor and outdoors going back to 2014.

In the women’s individual race, Karissa Schweizer repeated as champion. She won by 30.8 seconds. That’s one race that she can cross off the list, if she looks to pull off her conference, regional and national championship title sweep like last fall.

A Decade of Winning for New Mexico

Edna Kurgat continues her winning ways and takes the Mountain West Conference title as the Lady Lobos put four women in the top five for the team win. That’s No. 10 in as many years.  Allie Ostrander was the one who broke up a 1-2-3-4 finish. She was fourth behind Kurgat, Weini Kelati and Charlotte Prouse. Alice Wright was 27 seconds behind for fifth.

The Colorado State men won their first conference title with four men in the top eight. Jerrell Mock and Cole Rockhold went 1–2 ahead of Dillon Maggard of Utah State.

Other Notable news and notes:

  • The Michigan Wolverines swept the BIG 10 conference titles.
  • Iowa State takes down Oklahoma State for the Big 12 Conference title. Colorado used to absolutely own the conference. They won from 1996 to 2007 before German Fernandez and the Cowboys snapped the streak. Oklahoma State had won every year until Saturday. Oklahoma State finished third behind the Cyclones and Texas Longhorns. The Iowa State women also won.
  • NAU’s men and women swept the team titles at the Big Sky Conference Championships for the third time in four years.
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