The women's race kicked things off early as the threat of inclement weather moved up the start times, but Alaska Anchorage senior Caroline Kurgat wasted no time in dominating early and often to take her first ever NCAA cross country crown. Kurgat stalked Queens (N.C.) Hannah Wolkenhauer through 2K before dropping the hammer just past halfway. By the 4K split, Kurgat had established a commanding 24-second lead and wouldn't look back en route to a dominant 20-second win in 20:32. The victory marked the first individual title in Alaska Anchorage history. Walsh junior Sarah Berger was second in 20:52.
The team battle was much more dramatic, but ultimately the most storied program in DII history rose to the occasion. Led by three All-Americans-- Eilish Flanagan, Malena Grover, and Roisin Flanagan-- the Grizzlies won their 17th NCAA title on Saturday by a 126-137 score over U-Mary. The Marauders, led by four time All-American Alexis Zeis in 13th, earned their first ever podium finish. Cal Baptist and Chico State were third and fourth, respectively.
The men's race played out much the same way as the women's competition did in Evansville, both individually and team-wise. Tiffin's James Ngandu thoroughly dominated the race from start to finish to collect his first NCAA cross country title, crossing the line a full 34 seconds ahead of second place Zach Panning from Grand Valley State. The senior was never challenged and led the race from gun to tape.
The team battle, however, was a thriller. Top ranked Adams State won their second straight DII crown and 13th overall, but to do it they had to throw down an epic performance-- the Grizzlies put their entire top five inside the first 17 places to tally a staggering 44 points. Grand Valley State, second on Saturday with 64 points, has to be left wondering what else they can do to win as they are still without their first NCAA DII men's title. The Lakers had five All-Americans and three within the top 11 places, but it wasn't nearly good enough to topple the ASU juggernaut on Saturday.
Colorado School of Mines (85 points) and Western State (215 points) were third and fourth, respectively.