DII NCAA Cross Country Recap: Kimutai Picks Up Crucial Midseason Win

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All attention in Division II cross country over the weekend was in Romeoville, Illinois, as the Lewis Conference Crossover went down on Saturday. Despite the meet featuring none of the mighty Colorado heavyweights-- Adams State, Colorado Mines or Western Colorado-- the race still had plenty of podium implications and individual title contenders.

Here’s what we learned from DII’s de facto pre-national showcase.

Missouri Southern’s Gidieon Kimutai Remains The Big Individual Favorite

Missouri Southern sophomore Gidieon Kimutai has so far lived up to his status as DII’s top returner (fourth at NCAA XC in 2018) and the Kenyan is undefeated through his first three contests in 2019. On Saturday at Lewis he got his first real test of the season, as Grand Valley State All-American Tanner Chada finished just over a second behind him, 25:07.2 to 25:08.3 over the 8k trek.

Chada was third in the outdoor 5,000m last spring so he’s certainly someone in the national title discussion. But he’ll have to go through Kimutai to get there, no easy task considering that the MSSU harrier has won six of his last eight cross country races dating back to last year.

Grand Valley State’s Allie Ludge Crushes Everyone At Lewis

Adams State senior Eilish Flanagan is undoubtedly the woman to beat in DII after finishing second at NCAAs last fall and then winning Paul Short over multiple DI All-Americans on Oct. 5, but her toughest competition is shaping up to be Grand Valley State senior Allie Ludge, who dominated at Lewis with a 23-second victory in 22:12.

Now, there was no one near the caliber of Flanagan at Lewis, but Ludge is legit-- fifth at nationals a year ago, she notched four All-American honors on the track in 2019. A great individual matchup could be on the way for Nov. 23 in Sacramento.

Don’t Count Out Defending Champ Grand Valley State Men Just Yet

The 2018 NCAA men’s DII cross country champions, Grand Valley State, were expected to experience a big drop off in 2019 after graduating national runner-up Zach Panning and losing sixth place finish Enael Woldemichael as well. That drop off may still be coming in November, but the Lakers once again appear to be formidable even without their two biggest stars from last season. On Saturday, GVSU beat podium contenders Missouri Southern and Augustana (S.D.) by 28 and 46 points, respectively, to score a statement win at Lewis.

A big part of that is the aforementioned Chada, who led four men in the top 20 on Saturday. That result has to be encouraging for coach Jerry Baltes considering that, of those four, only Chada ran on the nationals roster a year ago. If GVSU’s No. 5 and 6 men at NCAAs in 2018, Ben Zaremba (46th at Lewis) and Jacob Domagalski (did not compete), run up to their abilities, this group can certainly contend for the top prize again in 2019.

Grand Valley State Women Dominate As Expected

There wasn’t much competition at Lewis for the reigning women’s NCAA champions, which allowed Grand Valley State to bludgeon the field with their overwhelming depth. Led by Ludge’s commanding win, the Lakers put four in the top 10 and all five scorers in the top 13 to tally 32 points. They beat runner-up Augustana (S.D.) by 87.

The Lakers were ranked second in our preseason poll behind No. 1 Adams State, but ASU has yet to debut two of their low sticks so questions remain as to what their team will look like come November. In any case, Grand Valley State, with an even better Ludge this year and two more returning All-Americans in Hanna Groeber and Madison Goen, cannot be dismissed. All three women finished in the top seven at Lewis.

Yulimar Rojas Sets Indoor Triple Jump World Record In Madrid

Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas set the women’s indoor triple jump world record on Friday in Madrid with a 15.43m leap. With it, the 24-year-old eclipsed Tatyana Lebedeva’s 15.36m mark that had stood since 2004.

Ababel Yeshaneh, Not Brigid Kosgei, Sets Half Marathon World Record

What was expected to be a coronation of marathon world record holder Brigid Kosgei as the half marathon queen instead turned into an introduction of a worthy counterpart as Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh stunned the Kenyan on Friday morning (Thursday night in the U.S.) at the Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Half Marathon by setting a 64:31 world record.

The 10 Best Performances From The Weekend

Between more Mondo Duplantis' theatrics in Glasgow, a ridiculous road 5k world record in Monaco and plenty of excitement stateside, there was a lot to get excited about this past weekend in track and field.

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Don't Look Now... The NAU Lumberjacks Could Win NCAA Indoors

With just two weeks left to qualify for NCAAs a majority of the top-16 fields are coming into form on the distance side. The NAU men are currently slated to qualify ten entries across three distance events.

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Joshua Cheptegei Smashes Road 5k World Record In 12:51

A little over a month after Rhonex Kipruto took down Joshua Cheptegei’s road 10k world record, the Ugandan has answered back in a big way by running 12:51 on Sunday in Monaco to smash Kipruto’s 5k world record. Cheptegei cut a whopping 27 seconds off the 13:18 that the Kenyan ran on Jan. 12, a run that came en route to Kipruto’s 26:24 10k record.

Mondo Does It Again, Breaks Pole Vault World Record

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Mondo Duplantis is ushering in a new era of the pole vault, one centimeter at a time. Just a week removed from his world record clearance of 6.17m, the 20-year-old vaulted 6.18m at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Glasgow.

U.S. Indoor Women's Preview: Can Purrier Chase Down Houlihan?

The most interesting match-up of the indoor season materialized quickly. Last Saturday evening at the Millrose Games, Elinor Purrier dropped a stunning 4:16.85 mile to break the American record and dispatch a stacked field in a race that turned into a festival of personal bests and national records. It was a career-defining race for Purrier. A run fast enough to legitimately raise the question if she could beat America’s best mid-distance runner, Shelby Houlihan. This weekend at the US Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, Purrier will have two chances (the 3000m on Friday and the 1500m on Saturday) to pull it off. 

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2020 High School Track & Field State Championships Central

2020 High School Indoor Track & Field State Championships:

Weekend Watch Guide: Simpson, Jones Chase Fast 5k At BU

One of the busiest weekends of the 2020 indoor track season is upon us, and FloTrack has you covered with several live events across the country. Boston will once again host some of the top professional and collegiate distance runners in the U.S., including Jenny Simpson, Dani Jones and Tyler Day.

U.S. Indoor Men's Preview: Coleman Debuts, Engels Battles Thompson, Murphy

The stakes for the 2020 USATF Indoor Championships were dramatically reduced in the wake of World Indoors being postponed due to the coronavirus. But prize money and bragging rights are incentive enough for the world’s fastest man and several top domestic distance runners this weekend in Albuquerque.

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