From the beginning, the emerging sophomore stuck with her teammates -- Alice Wright, Weini Kelati, and Charlotte Prouse -- to form a tight pack up front. Kurgat paced the meet until the halfway point of the race, when she surged ahead to win the individual title with a winning time of 19:22.8.
The performance marked Kurgat's first time running the Wisconsin course and just her second time competing in a New Mexico uniform. She transferred last year from Liberty but had to run unattached for a full year.
"I sat out for all of last year and I used that as a positive challenge and knew that when I came back I would try to prove myself," Kurgat told FloTrack after her victory.
Behind Kurgat, the other Lobos formed an unofficial team score of 87 points, well ahead of runner-up San Francisco (126) and third-place NC State (169). The Lobos' team victory was achieved with the help of Wright who placed fourth, Prouse who closed for seventh, Kelati who finished 15th, and Alondra Negron who finished 60th as the fifth scorer.
"My main goal wasn't to win, but to make my team shine," Kurgat said, referring to the tactic of starting the race as a group up front.
The Lobos were out in full force from the beginning as Kurgat, Kelati, Wright, and Prouse made their presence known up front. In the midst of a strong team presence early on, the individual contenders were all visible as well with Allie Ostrander of Boise State, Charlotte Taylor of USF, Katherine Receveur of Indiana, and Allie Buchalski of Furman in contention.
The pack, led by Kurgat, surged through 2K in 6:41, but as soon as they passed the split the Lobos started to move as a unit with Kurgat slowly injecting a faster pace. At the 2K split, the Lobos were already leading the team race with USF and Furman well behind them.
Suddenly Ostrander -- the 2016 Wisconsin champion -- disappeared from the front, leaving the remaining title contenders in a race against Kurgat, who continued to surge ahead through the 3K mark.
By the 4K split, Kurgat was well ahead of the rest of the pack and hit the split in 13:11. She was so far ahead that the second lead cart drove in between her and the rest of the field.
After Kurgat secured the individual crown, Grayson Murphy of Utah followed for a breakthrough second-place finish, and NCAA 10K champion Charlotte Taylor of USF closed for third.
Behind New Mexico, USF, and NC State, Boise State and Providence rounded out the top five team finishes.