STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA, November 19 — There was a bit of everything at the NCAA Men’s XC Championships.
In brief, Northern Arizona won its third straight team title while Stanford soph Charles Hicks was the individual champ, but as always with the hill-and-dale sport, there are stories behind the headlines.
For instance, there was something routine with NAU cementing its reputation as a generational program, with this win its sixth in seven years. The Flagstaff school is now tied with Oregon for No. 4 on the list of team champs.
There’s always something new at this meet. This time it was British-born (and US/UK dual citizen) Charles Hicks taking the win in 28:43.6, the first by a Stanford runner in that school’s storied harrier history and, given the pedigree of those who’ve run there, an indication of how tough it is to win.
He took the measure, barely, of NAU’s duo of soph Nico Young (28:44.5) and junior Drew Bosley (28:58). Rounding out the top 5 were Dylan Jacobs, the Notre Dame NCAA 10K champ now running for Tennessee, and Oklahoma State’s Alex Maier.
There was also a rarity: a numerical tie for the team title between NAU and host Oklahoma State; the former scored its 83 points off an adjusted 2-3-18-24-36 finish and the latter totaled the same off a 5-8-11-29-30 placing.
With that deadlock, the NCAA tie-breaking rule (each team’s runner vs. the corresponding finisher, with the best of 5 getting the big trophy) ruled the day, giving NAU a 3–2 edge. It was the second tie score in the 84 times the meet has been contested, but in ’42, with no tiebreaker in place, Indiana and Penn State shared the title with 57 points.
BYU ended up 3rd (132), top-ranked Stanford was 4th (190) and Wake Forest 5th (204) in the 31-team field.
There was also something kind of epic — and sort of cool as well — with the top 3 also the wire-to-wire top 3. The get-out-quickly-from-the-get-go race strategy planned by NAU was executed to perfection by the Lumberjack duo and the Stanford rival, who had the rest of the field running for 4th almost before you knew it.
Hicks was content to move along with Young and Bosley, with all sharing the lead at various times through the first 9K. They went through the halfway point in 14:16 with the chase pack well back at 14:27. Hicks said he noticed on the first loop the NAU pair were really strong on the downhills, but he’d pass them a bit on the uphills.
“I kept that in the back of my mind, and it started happening again on the second loop. And it didn’t hurt that much,” Hicks said. “So I started thinking I might be able to lay the hammer down. I cranked up the intensity just a bit to test them out. When I ended up in front, I had to kind of commit at that point.” That came with the end in sight as Bosley dropped a tad and Young struggled to counter Hicks’s move.
“I prefer to run strong, run aggressive, and keep a high intensity over the whole race,” Hicks said. “So they allowed me to run that kind of race I love to run where we’re just going for it, it comes down to who has more fitness, who’s done more miles, and who wants it more.”
The NAU guys moving hard early in the race caused Hicks’s race plan to largely go by the boards right away, but it also made it exactly the kind of race he had hoped for: hard from the start.
It was also just the kind of race that NAU coach Mike Smith wanted from his guys. “People talk about how tough the course is and I believe that makes them run much more conservatively,” he said. “Early in the race, some will play it safe, so that was our game plan. We wanted to capitalize on how much everyone was cautious. We wanted them to follow the plan and not let their nerves deter them.”
“I felt like there was no option but to keep to the plan,” said Young, who notched his second top-4 finish in 3 tries. “No one went with us so it just kind of ended up that way. When he broke away from both of us, I still had it in me to go with him, and I tried my best to, but I certainly didn’t know what was going to happen, because I was very tired at that point.
“I think the downhills more than anything kind of destroy your legs. Each hill takes a lot more out of you because of how taxing it is on your muscles. It’s hard to decide what to do on the downhills but we were taught to run on them.”
Having run here in the ’20 NCAA (Young placed 4th in that March ’21 race), he felt much better prepared: “This time I was in a much better place, knowing the course. I’m definitely learning. It’s increased my experience in championship races.”
The race sequence bears him out. Young and Bosley were never out of the top 3 after 1K. Santiago Prosser, NAU’s third man in 19th, was never lower than 32nd while fourth runner Brodey Hasty, who was 25th, was no lower than 44th and fifth man George Kusche’s worst place was his 39th at the end. The consistency paid off as NAU’s team score was 101 at the 1K mark and in the 90s until its final score.
Oklahoma State had a different approach with 276 points at the first K mark but then steadily diminishing numbers as its top 5 moved up steadily, especially after 5K when the Cowboys overtook Stanford and BYU en route to their tie with history.
“The guys hit it absolutely out of the park,” OSU’s Dave Smith said. “They did exactly what we said to do down to a letter, and it couldn’t have been run more perfectly. We said if we can get to 90 points or under 100, we’re going to win. It’s pretty rare to lose with 83 points.”
NCAA XC MEN’S RESULTS
Stillwater, Oklahoma, November 19 —
|1.||Northern Arizona||2-3-18-24-36 (79-127)||83|
|2.||Oklahoma State||5-8-11-29-30 (50-117)||83|
|5.||Wake Forest||19-21-25-53-86 (99-144)||204|
6. Wisconsin 212; 7. Air Force 264; 8. Colorado 281; 9. Tulsa 304; 10. North Carolina 323; 11. NC State 334; 12. Syracuse 340; 13. Gonzaga 400; 14. Washington 422;
15. Notre Dame 450; 16. Oregon 465; 17. Harvard 474; 18. Texas 506; 19. Villanova 513; 20. Tennessee 517; 21. Butler 553; 22. Virginia 557; 23. Arkansas 584;
24. Mississippi 598; 25. Montana State 599; 26. Utah State 618; 27. Alabama 683; 28. Colorado State 704; 29. Michigan 708; 30. Princeton 712; 31. Georgetown 752.
†=not in team scoring
10,000m (255 started, 252 finished)
|2.||**Nico Young||Northern Arizona||28:44.5|
|3.||*Drew Bosley||Northern Arizona||28:55.9|
|5.||*Alex Maier||Oklahoma State||28:58.2|
|8.||Isai Rodriguez||Oklahoma State||28:59.9|
|9.||**Parker Wolfe||North Carolina||29:00.4|
|12.||***Fouad Messaoudi’||Oklahoma State-Mor||29:10.8|
|18.||**Carter Solomon||Notre Dame||29:18.8|
|19.||**Santiago Prosser||Northern Arizona||29:19.5|
|20.||Zach Facioni’||Wake Forest-Aus||29:21.0|
|22.||**Luke Tewalt||Wake Forest||29:22.5|
|25.||*Brodey Hasty||Northern Arizona||29:27.2|
|26.||*Aaron Las Heras’||Wake Forest-Spa||29:27.8|
|28.||Ryan Johnson||Air Force||29:28.0|
|31.||**Victor Shitsama’||Oklahoma State-Ken||29:29.0|
|32.||**Rory Leonard||Oklahoma State||29:29.1|
|37.||†**Kirami Yego’||South Alabama-Ken||29:34.2|
|38.||Ian Shanklin||NC State||29:34.5|
|39.||George Kusche’||Northern Arizona-SA||29:34.9|
|40.||*Matthew Richtman||Montana State||29:35.7|
|49.||Ethan Marshall||Air Force||29:45.4|
|53.||**Ryan Schoppe||Oklahoma State||29:48.7|
|56.||Thomas Vanoppen’||Wake Forest-Bel||29:49.4|
|57.||Sam Gilman||Air Force||29:49.4|
|62.||**Ethan Strand||North Carolina||29:51.8|
|63.||***Izaiah Steury||Notre Dame||29:52.3|
|64.||**Brett Gardner||NC State||29:52.3|
|67.||Duncan Hamilton||Montana State||29:52.6|
|70.||*Luke Combs||Air Force||29:55.4|
|72.||John Tatter||North Carolina||29:58.2|
|74.||†**Gable Sieperda||Iowa State||29:59.0|
|76.||*Hannes Burger||NC State||30:00.1|
|77.||**Bryce Lentz||Air Force||30:01.7|
|80.||**Ian Harrison||NC State||30:02.9|
|84.||†*Abdirizak Ibrahim||New Mexico||30:05.8|
|85.||*Yonas Mogos||Utah State||30:06.3|
|87.||†*Vincent Mauri||Arizona State||30:08.3|
|88.||Ryan Raff||Northern Arizona||30:08.6|
|90.||†Jake Ritter||Cal Poly SLO||30:09.8|
|91.||*Sean Maison||Air Force||30:10.0|
|93.||†Fearghal Curtin’||Florida State-Ire||30:10.6|
|100.||Joaquin Martinez De Pinillos||Wake Forest||30:11.9|
|103.||*Jake Renfree||Notre Dame||30:13.7|
|106.||**Will Coogan||North Carolina||30:16.5|
|107.||†Titus Winders||Iowa State||30:16.9|
|108.||*Eli Bennett||Air Force||30:18.0|
|112.||Robinson Snider||NC State||30:20.7|
|113.||**Patrick Anderson||North Carolina||30:21.0|
|116.||Ben Mitchell||Wake Forest||30:21.3|
|122.||†*Teagan Flanagan||South Alabama||30:25.2|
|125.||*Camren Todd||Utah State||30:25.6|
|126.||†**Baidy Ba||Kent State||30:26.1|
|134.||†Ibrahim Kedir||La Salle-Can||30:28.3|
|135.||*Marshall Williamson||North Carolina||30:28.5|
|137.||†Antonio López Segura’||Virginia Tech-Spa||30:30.3|
|140.||***Will Muirhead||Oklahoma State||30:31.4|
|141.||*Mason Brown||Colorado State||30:31.6|
|142.||*Quinn Gallagher||Notre Dame||30:33.2|
|144.||*Tom Oates||Colorado State||30:34.0|
|147.||*Max Wehrli||Utah State||30:35.7|
|151.||***Colin Sahlman||Northern Arizona||30:37.0|
|158.||Mark Crandall||Utah State||30:40.6|
|159.||Cooper West||Montana State||30:41.7|
|170.||***Rynard Swanepoel’||Wake Forest-SA||30:46.6|
|172.||†*Aden Smith||Michigan State||30:46.9|
|173.||†CarLee Stimpfel||Michigan State||30:46.9|
|179.||*Dawson Besst||Colorado State||30:49.0|
|186.||**Lars Mitchel||Colorado State||30:54.4|
|187.||*Thomas Chaston||Colorado State||30:54.5|
|193.||†*Victor Neiva||North Texas||30:58.3|
|194.||Ben Fleming||North Carolina||30:58.6|
|199.||*Carter Cheeseman||Notre Dame||31:02.0|
|200.||**Ben Perrin||Montana State||31:02.4|
|213.||**Brennan Benson||Utah State||31:13.1|
|214.||Caleb Garnica||Utah State||31:17.3|
|215.||**Michael Mooney||Colorado State||31:17.9|
|218.||Darren Harman||Utah State||31:21.0|
|221.||†*Dennis Kipngeno’||A&M-Corpus Christi-Ken||31:27.9|
|222.||*Matthew Carmody||Notre Dame||31:29.1|
|227.||**Jake Toomey||NC State||31:34.4|
|231.||Kevin Berry||Notre Dame||31:38.2|
|233.||**Levi Taylor||Montana State||31:44.5|
|239.||†*Taonga Mbambo||La Salle||32:04.0|
|240.||**Owen Smith||Montana State||32:04.0|
|242.||**Rob McManus||Montana State||32:08.7|
|247.||*Brock Dykema||Colorado State||32:15.8|
|248.||**John Malach||NC State||32:17.0|
|252.||†**Jonathan Chung||Texas A&M||32:50.7|
…dnf—*Shea Weilbaker (Georgetown), *Nicholas Russell (Santa Clara), **Anthony Monte (Princeton).