It took less than 800 meters for the Adams State women to take control of the 2019 DII NCAA XC Championships in Sacramento, California. From there, they tightened their grip over the field as the race unfolded. Led by a 1-2-3 sweep from Stephanie Cotter, Eilish Flanagan and Roisin Flanagan, the No. 1 Grizzlies dominated at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex with a scant 23 points.
That point total ties the lowest women’s team score in DII cross country history, matching the 1999 Adams State team. Saturday's victory was the program's 18th in history, the most by a women's team across all three NCAA divisions.
The Grizzlies had all five scorers in the top 13 places, as HaLeigh Hunter-Galvan (sixth, 20:19) and Tiffany Christensen (13th, 20:36) rounded out the victory for ASU. For good measure, the sixth and seventh runners for Adams finished 25th and 31st to garner All-American honors as well.
On a flat and fast course, the pace was electric from the gun as U-Mary’s Ida Narbuvoll split 2:23 through the first half mile. The tempo was much too fast, and once she and Alaska-Anchorage’s Emmah Chelimo fell off the front after the mile, it was all Adams State the rest of the way.
Cotter, the 1500m and mile national champion, broke away from the Flanagan twins after halfway and was never tested late. She ran 19:15 to win by a comfortable 24-second margin. Eilish Flanagan took second at nationals for the second straight season in 19:39. Her sister, Roisin, was a step behind in 19:39.3.
Narbuvoll wound up fourth in 20:12.
Defending champion Grand Valley State ran admirably with five All-Americans, but it wasn’t nearly enough as they were second with 87 points. Led by Allie Ludge in 12th, the Lakers had just a 20-second spread 1-5. But on a day when Adams was nearly perfect, GVSU never challenged for the title on Saturday.
Joining Adams State and Grand Valley on the podium were two of ASU’s conference and regional foes. Colorado Mines took third with 133 points to notch their first ever podium finish while Western Colorado was fourth for the second straight year with 192 points.
Colorado Mines Men Dominate; Freshman Ezra Mutai Rallies Late To Win Individual Title
Like what happened in the women’s race, the men’s 10,000m contest quickly became a three-athlete battle as Gidieon Kimutai of Missouri Southern, Ezra Mutai of American International and UNC Pembroke’s Joshua Chepkesir had gapped the rest of the field by six seconds at halfway in 14:27.
With all three undefeated before nationals, a perfect season was at stake.
Chepkesir was the first casualty of the ambitious tempo, as the Southeast region champion started to drift back ahead of 8,000m. Next was Mutai, just a freshman, who fell off Kimutai with a mile to go, seemingly setting up an easy victory for the Missouri Southern sophomore. With just 900 meters to run, Kimutai-- the top returner from 2018-- had a six-second lead and no clear challenger between him and the finish line.
But suddenly with 600 meters to go, Kimutai started to crack. Exhausted from the hefty pace in 60° weather, Kimutai was slowing to a trot when Mutai sensed weakness. He pounced.
“800 meters [to go], I gained energy,” he said.
Blowing past Kimutai, who at this point was just trying to stay on his feet, Mutai waltzed to victory in 29:31 with a late-charging Kale Adams of Adams State coming on for second in 29:43. Kimutai made it to the line before collapsing into the arms of medical personnel, but not before two other men passed him. He was ultimately fifth in 29:49.
Chepkesir settled for eighth in 29:55.
In the team race, it was all Colorado Mines all the time as the Orediggers won their first national title since 2015 in dominant fashion, 57-136 over Adams State. Led by freshman Kyle Moran’s fourth place finish, Mines had all five of their scorers in the top 20.
🏆 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS 🏆— Mines Athletics (@MinesAthletics) November 23, 2019
The men of Mines have done it. AGAIN! @CSMtrack claims it’s second national title in record-setting in fashion in Sacramento. Six All-Americans and the lowest nationals score in program history.#HelluvaEngineer #NationalChampions pic.twitter.com/4e73nacMGG
Chico State (143 points) and 2018 champion Grand Valley State (177) rounded out the podium.