CONVINCING VICTORIES FOR CHESEREK, D’AGOSTINO AT NCAA CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
By David Monti, @d9monti
Edward Cheserek (457) and Kemoy Campbell (33) follow Kennedy Kithuka
(632) near the 4-kilometer mark at the 2013 NCAA Division I Cross
HAUTE, Ind. (23-Nov) — Oregon’s Edward Cheserek ran his first-ever
NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships here today, while
Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino ran her last. But both student-athletes
won their first individual titles at these 75 year-old championships in
convincing fashion, braving sub-freezing temperatures, strong winds,
and a muddy course. In the team competition, the University of Colorado
and Providence College clinched the men’s and women’s team titles,
CHESEREK REELS IN KITHUKA
The men’s 10-K
race went out conservatively, and defending champion Kennedy Kithuka of
Texas Tech was at the front of a eight-man lead pack at 3000 meters
(8:27.1). Cheserek was running second, joined by Arkansas’s Kemoy
Campbell, North Carolina State’s Andrew Colley, Harvard’s Maksim
Korolev, and others. Cheserek said he felt strong, but wanted to wait
before pressing the pace because he was feeling the effects of the
“I was trying to come around but the wind was coming towards me,” he said.
Kithuka had other ideas. Between 3000 and 5000 meters, Kithuka upped
the tempo and broke up the race. He dropped everybody except Cheserek
who was right on his heels through the 5-K mark (14:35.0). Kithuka
quickly began to get antsy, and decided to try to put the race away.
“We came like 14:32, 14:38; it was a slow pace for me,” Kithuka told Race Results Weekly. He continued: “It was too slow.”
a few meters, Kithuka opened up a big lead on Cheserek, and for a short
time it looked like he would be earning his second consecutive title
for the Red Raiders. But Cheserek remained patient and focused, and
started to whittle away at Kithuka’s lead. By the 8000 meter mark
(23:35.5) Kithuka’s gap had fallen to just two seconds, and Cheserek
was smelling victory.
“I kept pushing it,” Cheserek said. “Then
I finally decided that the wind was probably behind me, and I was just,
like, I have to go.”
Kithuka gave no response, and Cheserek
quickly pulled away to win by a very comfortable 18 seconds in 29:41.1.
Kithuka held his second place position (29:59.1), while Harvard’s
Maksim Korolev finished third (29:59.5).
Cheserek was one of
only a handful of freshman (first year student) to win these
championships. Lawi Lalang (Arizona) was a freshman in cross country
when he won in 2011, but had already competed in indoor track the same
year. David Kimani (South Alabama) was a freshman when he won in 1999,
but was 22 years-old. The last “true” freshman (18 or 19 years-old, and
a first year student) to win was Bob Kennedy (Indiana) in 1988. Like
Kennedy, Cheserek was also crowned USA high school champion the year
In the team competition, Colorado only put one man in
the top-10 (freshman Ben Saarel), but won the points title nonetheless
over #1-ranked Northern Arizona, 149 to 169. Defending champion
Oklahoma State was third with 230 points.
D’AGOSTINO RUNS SMART RACE
the women’s 6-K contest, Iona College’s Kate Avery –who has won two
international track medals for her native Great Britain– launched to
the lead right from the gun. Wearing a bright yellow top and a black
headband, she had a three-second lead over the main group which
included Kentucky’s Cally Macumber, Providence’s Sarah Collins,
Butler’s Katie Clark, Boise State’s Emma Bates, Dartmouth’s D’Agostino,
and Florida State’s Colleen Quigley. Avery said she hadn’t planned to
take the lead so early.
“It just turned out that way,” she told
reporters after the race, saying that the pack was running just a
little slow for her taste.
Surprisingly, Avery held that
three-second lead through 4000 meters 13:07.2, but D’Agostino said she
wasn’t worried. Her face and legs greased with olive oil to protect her
skin from the cold, she moved gently to the front of the chase pack,
then picked up her pace to catch Avery.
“We had talked about
that, and we knew that sometimes that’s happened before, (like) when I
was a sophomore here,” D’Agostino said. “We just kind of eased our way
up and we knew the gap was closing. The pace didn’t feel out of control
to me. I knew there was 2-K to do it, and it just had to be gradual.”
minutes, D’Agostino –who had finished second at these championships
last year– passed Avery and was quickly running alone. Striding
smoothly through the muddy grass, she held her form to finish in
20:00.3, much to the delight of her coach, Olympian Mark Coogan, and
her parents. D’Agostino said her victory was particularly sweet because
she got to share it with her Dartmouth team who finished 16th.
incredible,” said D’Agostino. “I know that I couldn’t have done it
without my team here, because that was like the one missing piece when
I was here the last couple of years. We were talking about it last
night. To have these girls with me on the line was like… there’s
nothing to worry about. You know your family is here.”
D’Agostino, both Emma Bates and Stanford’s Aisling Cuffe were taking
full advantage of their sprint speed to advance their positions. Bates
blew by Avery to take second (20:03.9), Avery got third (20:05.4), and
Cuffe finished fourth (20:09.3). Bates, who told Race Results Weekly
yesterday that she sometimes had trouble believing in her own
abilities, was thrilled with her runner-up finish.
“I could see
the finish line and I just wanted to pump as hard as I could for as
long as I could and get there,” Bates explained. “It was really tough.”
Avery said she hoped to be selected for the British Team for the European Cross Country Championships next month in Belgrade.
“If they pick me,” she said.
Treacy’s Providence Lady Friars were led by senior Emily Sisson (7th
place), and won easily with 141 points to Arizona’s 197. Defending
champions Oregon –who lost Jordan Hasay to graduation– finished 14th.