UP UNTIL mid-October, clashes between top-ranked teams were not only rare but often misleading, as few put together their squads at full-strength before the big weekend that featured both the Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invitational and the Pre-National Invitational, which are covered separately. All the same, fans got to see flashes of greatness here and there, appetizers to the buffet of great harrier action that is coming during championship season. An overview (the rankings referred to here are USTFCCCA’s at the time of each race):
Coast-to-Coast Battle In Beantown
Boston, September 20—Syracuse’s men (No. 13) scored 64 to take the win over Army (91) and Stony Brook (129). No. 3 Washington, not at full strength, finished 5th with 156. Harvard senior Kieran Tuntivate took the individual win in 23:58 over Navy’s Jake Brophy (24:11). On the women’s side, Providence’s Abbey Wheeler and Amanda Vestri of Syracuse went to the wire, Wheeler getting the nod as both clocked 17:03 for 5K. Laura Dickinson of Syracuse, who had stayed with them for the first 2M, finished 3rd in 17:06. The 27th-rated Orange handily took team honors, 35 points to BC’s 83.
Terre Haute, Indiana, September 21—A chance to run on the NCAA route early brought a host of schools to the LaVern Gibson course, with No. 1 Northern Arizona scoring an impressive 31 points to top No. 7 Stanford (51), No. 5 Iowa State (66) and No. 24 Purdue (70). Iowa State senior Edwin Kurgat outlegged Stanford’s Thomas Ratcliffe for the win, 23:48-23:51. Behind them the Lumberjacks showed their strength in grabbing the next four spots—three of them with freshmen: Luis Grijalva (23:59), Theo Quax (24:04), Abdihamid Nur (24:04) and Brodey Hasty (24:05).
No. 5 Arkansas topped No. 8 Stanford for the women’s crown, 49–54, with No. 3 Washington (66) and No. 4 Michigan (75) taking the next two spots. Razorback Taylor Werner won with a 16:25, ahead of Stanford’s Fiona O’Keeffe (16:34), Arkansas’s Katie Izzo (16:40) and yearlings Ericka VanderLende of Michigan (16:41) and Melany Smart of Washington (16:43).
Springfield, Oregon, September 28—A strong Oregon men’s squad, ranked No. 11 coming in, roared to the win over BYU (2) and UCLA (24) as 3 Ducks, led by Jamie West, finished in the top 10. The hosts scored 54 to BYU’s 60 and UCLA’s 62. BYU’s Connor Mantz (23:25) topped UCLA’s Robert Brandt (23:27) in the individual race, with West 3rd in 23:33. Said Oregon assistant Ben Thomas, “We have 3 weeks now until Wisconsin so it’s definitely a confidence-booster going into that but we have to keep building. The end of the season is a 10K. This was an 8K so it only tells part of the story.” No. 2 BYU crushed the women’s race, winning with 35 points over No. 13 Boise State’s 81. Whitni Orton of BYU covered the 6K in 19:26, over teammate Erika Birk (19:31) and Oregon’s Susan Ejore (19:42).
Notre Dame, Indiana, October 04—No. 4 Colorado put its varsity squad together for the first time, and came away with a big men’s win, scoring 71 points to top No. 14 Mississippi and No. 15 NC State. Alabama’s Vincent Kiprop (23:10) and Gilbert Kigen (23:14) took the 1-2 over Colorado’s Joe Klecker (23:18). On the women’s side, Weini Kelati of New Mexico handily topped Wisconsin’s Alicia Monson in a key matchup, 16:02–16:14. Auburn’s Joyce Kimeli (16:21), Melany Smart of Washington (16:23), Ednah Kurgat of New Mexico (16:24) and Anna Rohrer of Notre Dame (16:25) followed. The unranked Utah women edged the No. 1 Buffs 110-116.
Chile Pepper Festival
Fayetteville, Arkansas, October 05—Razorback alum Cameron Griffith took the win in 23:36 over senior Gilbert Boit and Oklahoma State’s Ashenafi Hatte (both 23:47). Texas took the team win with 74 points over Colorado School of Mines, with host Arkansas back in 5th (Boit was running unattached). A very fast women’s 5K saw Arkansas (No. 2) take the top 4 places, with Taylor Werner first in 15:46, ahead of Katie Izzo’s 15:51. The old course record had been 16:01 by Dominique Scott Efurd in ’14. Needless to say, the Razorbacks beat Texas handily, 24-90. Said coach Lance Harter, “I think our opposition across the United States are anxiously awaiting the results. Now, when they see them they’re gonna say ‘the course is short’ or some other excuse, but we have an arsenal right now led by Taylor and Katie, and that duo running that fast is absolutely exceptional.”
Louisville, October 05—Campbell’s new find, Kenyan junior Athanas Kioko, took the win in 22:59 over the Middle Tennessee pair of Jacob Choge (23:01) and Kigen Chemadi (23:03). Amon Kemboi of Campbell was 4th in 23:10. Middle Tennessee took the win with 81 points over Louisville (111).
The women’s race went to Xavier’s Anna Kostarellis (16:44) over Eusila Chepkemei (16:52) and Joice Jebor (16:53) of the winning Middle Tennessee squad. ◻︎