Ednah Kurgat Leads New Mexico To 2017 NCAA XC Title Over San Francisco

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Led by a relentless Ednah Kurgat, the New Mexico Lobos placed four runners in the top 15 to secure the 2017 NCAA Cross Country Championship title today with 90 points amid windy conditions in Louisville, Kentucky. San Francisco's historic year ended with their best NCAA finish ever, second place, with 105, and Colorado followed in third with 139.

Kurgat, who remained unchallenged after she calmly peeled away from the lead pack right around the 4K mark, finished first in 19:19.42--a 6K championships and course record--to culminate an undefeated season. Her freshman teammate, Weini Kelati, also closed out her first-ever NCAA Championship in style by finishing seventh (19:35.77) -- ahead of reigning champion Karissa Schweizer of Missouri, 11th, and other top contenders such as Utah's Grayson Murphy, eighth; Furman's Allie Buchalski, ninth; and Colorado's Dani Jones, 10th.

Charlotte Prouse, New Mexico's third scorer, followed Schweizer in 12th, and Alice Wright was just a second behind in 14th. After a season full of speculation about who would step up at the NCAA Championships as New Mexico's fifth runner, freshman Alondra Negron provided an answer as she crossed the line in 85th.

Prouse explains she runs best when she's happy and she couldn't have asked for a better transition:

New Mexico's Team Results

PlaceAthleteYearTeamScoreTimeGapAvg. MileAvg. KM
1KURGAT, EdnahSONew Mexico119:19.5---5:10.83:13.2
7KELATI, WeiniFRNew Mexico619:35.80:16.85:15.23:16.0
12PROUSE, CharlotteJRNew Mexico919:49.00:30.05:18.73:18.2
14WRIGHT, AliceSRNew Mexico1119:49.80:30.85:19.03:18.3
85NEGRON, AlondraFRNew Mexico6320:36.71:17.75:31.53:26.1

San Francisco's top five, led by a daring effort from low stick Charlotte Taylor, finished 3-5-12-33-52. The Dons' second finisher, junior Weronika Pyzik, ran a gusty race to take fifth, and sophomore Isabelle Brauer grabbed 15th behind New Mexico's Wright. Breaking away almost immediately from the pack, the favorites -- Taylor, Kurgat, Schweizer, Jones, Boise State's Allie Ostrander, and Oregon's Katie Rainsberger -- kept pace with early front-running tactics by Charlotte's Caroline Sang to cross the 2K mark in 6:22. Although Taylor did her best to respond to Kurgat's move at 4K, she couldn't stay stride-for-stride and began to buckle down for second. Sang's bravery paid off as she finished sixth overall in her NCAA Championship debut.

Sang says her plan was to get out and hold on after the 4K mark:

San Francisco's Team Results

PlaceAthleteYr.TeamScoreTimeGapAvg. MileAvg. KM
3TAYLOR, CharlotteSRSan Francisco319:28.60:09.65:13.33:14.8
5PYZIK, WeronikaJRSan Francisco519:34.00:15.15:14.73:15.7
15BRAUER, IsabelleSOSan Francisco1219:50.10:31.15:19.03:18.3
49BOUCHARD, MarieSRSan Francisco3320:20.51:01.55:27.23:23.4
72BIRD, ElizabethSRSan Francisco5220:29.61:10.65:29.63:24.9

In a mad dash to the finish line, Washington's Amy-Eloise Neale shocked a lot of the favorites today by taking individual runner-up honors. With about 800 meters to go, Neale made a massive move and kicked down Taylor as she closed in on the homestretch. Ostrander concluded her post-injury comeback season with a return to form in fourth place, but once again behind Taylor, who won the West Regional ahead of the Boise State sophomore. 

Neale says she was shocked by her kick for second place:

Taylor says she ran excited and comments on the fast start to the race:

Top 15 Individual Finishers

PlaceAthleteYr.TeamScoreTimeGapAvg. MileAvg. KM
1KURGAT, EdnahSONew Mexico119:19.5---5:10.83:13.2
2NEALE, Amy-EloiseSRWashington219:27.00:08.05:12.83:14.5
3TAYLOR, CharlotteSRSan Francisco319:28.60:09.65:13.33:14.8
4OSTRANDER, AllieSOBoise State419:31.20:12.35:14.03:15.2
5PYZIK, WeronikaJRSan Francisco519:34.00:15.15:14.73:15.7
6SANG, CarolineJRCharlotte--19:35.60:16.65:15.23:15.9
7KELATI, WeiniFRNew Mexico619:35.80:16.85:15.23:16.0
8MURPHY, GraysonSRUtah--19:36.30:17.35:15.43:16.0
9BUCHALSKI, AllieSRFurman719:42.50:23.55:17.03:17.1
10JONES, DaniJRColorado819:47.00:28.05:18.23:17.8
11SCHWEIZER, KarissaSRMissouri--19:47.50:28.55:18.43:17.9
12PROUSE, CharlotteJRNew Mexico919:49.00:30.05:18.73:18.2
13O'KEEFFE, FionaSOStanford1019:49.40:30.45:18.93:18.2
14WRIGHT, AliceSRNew Mexico1119:49.80:30.85:19.03:18.3
15BRAUER, IsabelleSOSan Francisco1219:50.10:31.15:19.03:18.3


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