NCAA Women’s XC Championships — And Arkansas Gets Its First

Carina Viljoen and coach Lance Harter had plenty to celebrate about as the Razorbacks won not only their first XC crown, but also claimed a calendar year triple of national titles. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA, November 23—On an NCAA XC Championships day when the prevailing weather was unfit for man, woman, or beast, brimming-with-confidence Weini Kelati gained separation early and galloped on to an impressive individual victory in 19:47.5. Meanwhile a talented and experienced Arkansas squad captured its first-ever crown, edging BYU by 6 points, 96–102.

After overwhelming performances in winning her Conference and Regional races by 49 and 57 seconds, New Mexico junior Kelati stepped into the starting box as the cofavorite with Wisconsin senior Alicia Monson. With athletes facing a steady, annoying rain, temperatures in the mid-30’s, and the LaVern Gibson Championship Course softened by several days of an intermittent precipitation, which athlete would better handle the weather, the competition and the moment?

After the customary opening dash for position and an initial kilometer in 3:07, the lead pack slowed and bunched up tighter than a belt after Thanksgiving dinner. But just before 2K, a fidgety Kelati could contain herself no longer. With, among others, Monson, New Mexico’s 2017 individual champion Ednah Kurgat and Notre Dame’s Anna Rohrer looking on, the reigning NCAA 10,000 champion soon crept away, a move that cleverly increased her advantage in a way that inspired no one to cover her pace change. Just like that, last year’s runner-up had a 25m lead. A chase group comprised of Monson, Auburn’s Joyce Kimeli and Rohrer worked hard to reunite with Kelati by 3K, but a renewed surge by the Lobo star, racing the tangents and working the uphills, recreated her dominating gap that sealed the victory.

Afterwards, the winner was composed, fresh as a daisy. Runner-up Monson (19:57.1), unable to threaten the new champion after her early spurt, was candid yet upbeat upon her reflection on the wet and muddy contest. “Competing in track & field and cross country provides learning experiences. I made a mistake today by not going with Kelati when she made that early move,” said last year’s 4th-place finisher. When Kelati slipped beyond reach, the Great Lakes Regional champion and 2-time Big 10 winner stayed focused, fending off a late homestretch charge by the Razorback’s Katie Izzo to preserve 2nd.

In the battle for the team title, midrace scoreboard splits showed aggressive early racing had allowed BYU to build a double digit lead over highly favored Arkansas. Eight days earlier the Razorbacks had pitched a perfect game in the South Central Regional, taking the first 5 places and ringing up just 15 points. And they didn’t panic in this 39th NCAA championship race. A squad-wide surge by all scoring Razorbacks over the final 2 kilos proved to be the difference.

Valiant homestretch drives by Izzo and Regional champion Taylor Werner placed them 3rd and 4th. But a 5-6-7 finish by Cougar athletes Courtney Wayment , Erica Birk and Whittni Orton followed and left the team title outcome in doubt. The Razorback’s No. 5, Lauren Gregory, coming back from a stress fracture, hung tough to finish 52nd to clinch the team title. Had Gregory and next Hog finisher Maddy Reed (57th) closed just a second or two slower BYU—not Arkansas—would have won the championship.

A joyful yet modest Lance Harter, the experienced Arkansas mentor, explained how his team kept its cool and overcame Gregory’s early-season injury, saying, “During her 6-week cross training process Lauren did a great job. So when she got better, she said ‘I’m going to come back and see how I’m doing.’ After she ran at our invitational she told me, ‘With this team, I’ve got to go. I can help this team.’”

Gregory’s return was combined with Harter’s perfectly crafted championship strategy. “I wanted them to get into position, stay as relaxed as possible, make sure they were in position at 4K, and then really try to bring it home,” said Harter. “At 2K we were 3rd, down by 25–30 points. And it really didn’t scare me. We knew they were going to continue in check. And I saw Lauren (52nd in 21:05) in great position. And obviously our front four [Izzo, Werner, Devin Clark; Carina Viljoen] were doing what they’ve done all year: staying relatively close and finishing strong.”

Before leaving for the awards ceremony, Harter was asked to identify which was more gratifying: the Arkansas women’s inaugural NCAA cross country title or the rare accomplishment of capturing 3 NCAA women’s titles – indoor, outdoor, and cross – in a single calendar year? After a momentary pause, the Razorback leader, always careful in his replies, smiled and declared,“I would call it a tie.”


NCAA WOMEN’S XC RESULTS

Terre Haute, Indiana, November 23—

Teams

(adjusted places)

1. Arkansas 3–4–16–21–52 (57–142) 96
2. BYU 5–6–7–41–43 (80–125) 102
3. Stanford 8–11–20–38–46 (69–158) 123
4. New Mexico 1–9–27–40–91 (170–189) 168
5. NC State 10–17–39–49–75 (100–171) 190

6. Michigan State 209; 7. Wisconsin 235; 8. Air Force 259; 9. Furman 290; 10. Colorado 294; 11. Washington 296; 12. Florida State 308; 13. Michigan 395; 14. Northern Arizona 406; 15. Notre Dame 415; 16. Utah 471; 17. Boise State 474; 18. Penn State 482; 19. Indiana 509; 20. Boston College 514; 21. Mississippi 541; 22. Illinois 549; 23. Ohio State 566; 24. Villanova 575; 25. Tulsa 584; 26. Oregon 618; 27. Columbia 624; 28. Minnesota 691; 29. Cornell 693; 30. Texas 713; 31. Harvard 787.

Individuals

(10K; 254 started, 252 finished)

(† = not part of team scoring; ‘ after name = foreigner)

(Classes: *** = frosh; ** = soph; * = junior; all others are seniors)

1. *Weini Kelati’ (New Mexico) 19:47.5
2. Alicia Monson (Wisconsin) 19:57.1
3. Katie Izzo (Arkansas) 19:59.3
4. Taylor Werner (Arkansas) 20:11.1
5. Courtney Wayment (BYU) 20:16.1
6. Erica Birk (BYU) 20:16.1
7. *Whittni Orton (BYU) 20:17.0
8. *Ella Donaghu (Stanford) 20:17.9
9. Ednah Kurgat’ (New Mexico) 20:18.4
10. Elly Henes (NC State) 20:20.7
11. *Jessica Lawson (Stanford) 20:24.6
12. ***Melany Smart (Washington) 20:24.8
13. Savannah Carnahan (Furman) 20:25.1
14. †*Joyce Kimeli’ (Auburn) 20:26.2
15. †*Cailie Logue (Iowa State) 20:26.8
16. †**Molly Born (Oklahoma State) 20:28.2
17. Anna Rohrer (Notre Dame) 20:28.3
18. †*Taylor Somers (Oklahoma State) 20:30.0
19. †*Aoibhe Richardson’ (USF) 20:30.1
20. Gabrielle Jennings (Furman) 20:30.9
21. Devin Clark (Arkansas) 20:32.2
22. ***Kelsey Chmiel (NC State) 20:32.5
23. †*Hannah Steelman (Wofford) 20:32.6
24. †*Eglė Morenaitė’ (Iona) 20:32.6
25. ***Ericka VanderLende (Michigan) 20:32.8
26. Amy Davis (Wisconsin) 20:34.7
27. Fiona O’Keeffe (Stanford) 20:36.8
28. Carina Viljoen’ (Arkansas) 20:39.8
29. **Lydia Olivere (Villanova) 20:39.9
30. †***Camila Noe (Montana State) 20:40.0
31. **Bailey Hertenstein (Indiana) 20:40.1
32. Jeralyn Poe (Michigan State) 20:40.3
33. Katie Rainsberger (Washington) 20:41.6
34. Annie Fuller (Michigan State) 20:42.4
35. *Hannah Nuttall’ (New Mexico) 20:42.9
36. *Maria Mettler (Air Force) 20:43.1
37. †*Christina Rice (UCLA) 20:44.3
38. Sage Hurta (Colorado) 20:44.3
39. *Mahala Norris (Air Force) 20:46.2
40. †Jessica Drop (Georgia) 20:48.5
41. *Abby Nichols (Ohio State) 20:50.2
42. Mikayla Malaspina (Northern Arizona) 20:52.9
43. **Holly Bent (Colorado) 20:54.0
44. †*Lotte Black (Rhode Island) 20:54.0
45. †*Samantha Drop (Georgia) 20:54.3
46. **Jenna Magness (Michigan State) 20:54.6
47. †*Winny Koskei’ (Wichita State) 20:55.1
48. †*Paige Hofstad (North Carolina) 20:55.7
49. Lynsie Gram (Michigan State) 20:56.4
50. †*Ashley Tutt (Northern Illinois) 20:57.5
51. Isabelle Kennedy (BC) 20:58.6
52. *Alissa Niggemann (Wisconsin) 20:58.7
53. ***Abi Archer (Stanford) 20:58.7
54. *Dominique Clairmonte (NC State) 20:59.1
55. *Adva Cohen’ (New Mexico) 20:59.2
56. Olivia Hoj (BYU) 20:59.4
57. †**Anna Pataki (Portland) 21:00.2
58. ***Sarah Schmitt (Indiana) 21:00.3
59. †**Ivine Chemutai’ (Louisville) 21:00.7
60. *Anna Camp (BYU) 21:01.3
61. Lindsey Blanks (Air Force) 21:01.4
62. *Jodie Judd’ (Florida State) 21:01.5
63. *Julia Heymach (Stanford) 21:01.9
64. †*Alison Pray (Southern Utah) 21:02.0
65. *Allison McGrath (Illinois) 21:02.3
66. †*Anna Kostarellis (Xavier/Ohio) 21:02.5
67. *Caitlin Klopfer (Tulsa) 21:02.9
68. ***Mariah Howlett (NC State) 21:02.9
69. *Maudie Skyring’ (Florida State) 21:04.5
70. †Kelsie Warren (Texas A&M) 21:04.7
71. **Mikayla Gallagher (Air Force) 21:05.0
72. *Lauren Gregory (Arkansas) 21:05.0
73. *Alison Willingmyre (PennSt) 21:05.6
74. *Poppy Tank (Utah) 21:05.8
75. Katie Wasserman (Columbia) 21:06.1
76. ***Rebecca Clark (Florida State) 21:06.6
77. Maddy Reed (Arkansas) 21:06.7
78. *Kristlin Gear (Furman) 21:06.9
79. **Taylor Chiotti (Oregon) 21:07.0
80. Kathryn Munks (Penn State) 21:07.2
81. ***Maddy Denner (Notre Dame) 21:07.7
82. †Jenny Sandoval (San José State) 21:08.2
83. **Yukino Parle (Boise State) 21:09.1
84. *Alexandra Hays (Columbia) 21:09.4
85. *Rachel McArthur (Colorado) 21:10.2
86. †Jessica Pascoe’ (Florida) 21:10.4
87. †***Grace Forbes (Rice) 21:10.7
88. †Natalie Cizmas (Eastern Michigan) 21:11.8
89. Emma Grace Hurley (Furman) 21:12.2
90. *Gabrielle Orie (Cornell) 21:12.2
91. †Sara Freix (Virginia Tech) 21:12.7
92. *Anna Elkin (Mississippi) 21:13.0
93. †Madeline Perez (Georgetown) 21:13.2
94. *Anna Juul (Harvard) 21:13.2
95. *Jordan Oakes (Stanford) 21:13.6
96. **Lucinda Crouch’ (Wisconsin) 21:14.5
97. *Micaela DeGenero (Michigan) 21:14.6
98. Sarah Feeny (Utah) 21:14.8
99. †Hannah Reinhardt (Albany) 21:15.3
100. ***Annie Hill (Colorado) 21:16.2
101. **Elizabeth Funderburk (Florida State) 21:16.5
102. **Savannah Shaw (NC State) 21:16.7
103. †Lexie Thompson (Weber State) 21:16.8
104. *Lauren White (BC) 21:16.9
105. Anna West (Michigan) 21:17.0
106. †*Hannah Butler (Brown) 21:17.1
107. *Bella Williams (Utah) 21:17.4
108. Miranda Myers (Northern Arizona) 21:18.3
109. ***Anastaysia Davis (BYU) 21:18.5
110. *Abby Kohut-Jackson (Minnesota) 21:18.8
111. Ann Campbell (Villanova) 21:19.4
112. *Addison Coggins (Florida State) 21:19.4
113. †*Maggie Schneider (Oakland) 21:19.6
114. *Lauren Ryan (Florida State) 21:20.0
115. **Shona McCulloch (Washington) 21:20.3
116. **Haley Herberg (Washington) 21:20.7
117. **Cara Woolnough (Utah) 21:20.7
118. Lilli Burdon’ (Washington) 21:21.1
119. **Jacqueline Gaughan (Notre Dame) 21:21.9
120. †*Melia Chittenden (Princeton) 21:23.4
121. *Sarah Kettel (Michigan State) 21:24.0
122. ***Gracelyn Larkin (New Mexico) 21:24.6
123. **Taryn O’Neill (Northern Arizona) 21:24.8
124. **Maxine Paholek’ (Boise State) 21:24.9
125. Taylor Knibb (Cornell) 21:25.1
126. Tabor Scholl (Colorado) 21:25.2
127. ***Grace Brock (Boise State) 21:26.9
128. **Olivia Johnson (Boise State) 21:27.3
129. Destiny Collins (Texas) 21:27.9
130. **Madison Marasco (Illinois) 21:27.9
131. **Nevada Mareno (NC State) 21:28.3
132. *Pipi Eitel (Northern Arizona) 21:28.5
133. **Bryn Morley (Northern Arizona) 21:28.7
134. †*Emily Royston (Butler) 21:29.1
135. Amanda Gehrich (Oregon) 21:29.4
136. Isabelle Brauer’ (Oregon) 21:29.6
137. *Maggie Farrell (Michigan State) 21:29.7
138. Teri Brady (Air Force) 21:31.4
139. ***Alexa Westley (Wisconsin) 21:32.5
140. ***Skylar Boogerd (Mississippi) 21:33.0
141. ***Maggie Smith (Villanova) 21:33.2
142. †**Sami Corman (Georgetown) 21:34.1
143. ***Olivia Markezich (Notre Dame) 21:35.2
144. *Danae Rivers (PennSt) 21:35.6
145. *Maddy Trevisan (Michigan) 21:35.9
146. **Jenna Kill (Air Force) 21:36.3
147. **Ylva Traxler (Mississippi) 21:36.4
148. **Caroline Miller (Tulsa) 21:36.6
149. Kathryn Gillespie (Texas) 21:36.9
150. Emma Sloan (Michigan) 21:38.0
151. **Julia Paternain’ (PennSt) 21:38.5
152. Ashley Barnes (Tulsa) 21:38.5
153. *Madeleine King (Mississippi) 21:38.7
154. Megan Mooney (Florida State) 21:38.8
155. †**Arina Kleshchukova’ (New Orleans) 21:42.0
156. ***Peyton Sippy (Wisconsin) 21:42.1
157. †Linda Cheruiyot’ (UTEP) 21:42.4
158. Lainey Studebaker (Ohio State) 21:42.7
159. *Rebecca Craddock (Illinois) 21:43.1
160. *Sara Musselman (BYU) 21:43.1
161. †*Mia Nahom (UConn) 21:43.1
162. **Lara Hamilton (Boise State) 21:43.2
163. **Anna Oeser (BC) 21:44.9
164. **Camila David-Smith (Washington) 21:45.0
165. *Fian Sullivan Sweeney (BC) 21:45.1
166. **Emma Milburn (Illinois) 21:45.2
167. †Ashley Driscoll (Texas A&M) 21:45.4
168. ***Allie Guagenti (Ohio State) 21:45.6
169. Maddie McHugh (Mississippi) 21:45.7
170. **Lisa Vogelgesang’ (Mississippi) 21:46.4
171. *Emma McClellan (Mississippi) 21:47.6
172. **Anastasia Korzenowski (Minnesota) 21:47.8
173. *Kathryn House (Michigan) 21:47.9
174. Julia Rizk (Ohio State) 21:49.9
175. *Sarah Werking (Minnesota) 21:50.8
176. Grace Dwyer (Furman) 21:51.5
177. ***Megan Ciasullo (Penn State) 21:52.1
178. ***Jocelyn Long (Notre Dame) 21:52.1
179. *Abby Gray (Arkansas) 21:52.9
180. ***Jenna Barker (Indiana) 21:53.0
181. *Kalee Soehnlen (Ohio State) 21:53.6
182. Shannon Molvin (Northern Arizona) 21:53.8
183. ***Sarah Flynn (BC) 21:54.2
184. *Jenny O’Bryan (Tulsa) 21:54.3
185. ***Isabell Sagar (Harvard) 21:54.8
186. ***Emma Wilson (Illinois) 21:55.2
187. ***Abby Green (Indiana) 21:56.7
188. ***Abi Little (Indiana) 21:57.1
189. Karina Mann (Colorado) 21:58.1
190. Swathi Samuel (Air Force) 21:59.0
191. *Emily Moyes (Boise State) 21:59.7
192. Adrena Mazzei (Tulsa) 22:00.5
193. Reagan Hausmann (Tulsa) 22:00.6
194. Emily Acker (Columbia) 22:00.7
195. Christina Aragon (Stanford) 22:01.4
196. Kelsey Harris (Indiana) 22:04.0
197. *Erin Archibeck (Notre Dame) 22:04.2
198. *Zetta Mason (Minnesota) 22:04.5
199. *Madeline Vondra (Texas) 22:04.6
200. **Linnaea Kavulich (Columbia) 22:05.3
201. ***Beth Ramos (Texas) 22:05.6
202. ***Brynne Sumner (Villanova) 22:05.9
203. *Annasophia Keller (Notre Dame) 22:07.0
204. *Brooke Starn (Harvard) 22:07.1
205. †Suzanne Dannheim (GWU) 22:07.4
206. **Natalie Morris (Cornell) 22:07.5
207. Kyleigh Spearing (Cornell) 22:08.2
208. **Juanita Johnson (New Mexico) 22:08.8
209. *Julia Zachgo (NC State) 22:09.0
210. *Devon Leahy (Ohio State) 22:09.6
211. *Claudine Blancaflor (Texas) 22:10.2
212. Paige Duca (BC) 22:10.2
213. Susan Ejore’ (Oregon) 22:10.7
214. **Jaycie Thomsen (Minnesota) 22:10.9
215. *Aneta Konieczek (Oregon) 22:12.7
216. *Madison Boreman (Colorado) 22:13.3
217. *Nicki Cast (Illinois) 22:14.6
218. *Trina Moreno (Ut) 22:16.5
219. ***Mikaela Ramirez (Indiana) 22:17.7
220. Clare O’Brien (Boise State) 22:19.2
221. ***Olivia Howell (Illinois) 22:20.3
222. *Emma Christensen (Utah) 22:22.4
223. **Jordan Williams (Penn State) 22:23.2
224. **Sofia Camacho (Columbia) 22:24.5
225. **Caramia Mestler (Oregon) 22:26.5
226. *Lindsey Greenlund (Minnesota) 22:27.5
227. **Alexandra Harris (New Mexico) 22:29.5
228. ***Ellie Lundgreen (Utah) 22:30.1
229. Gillian Meeks (Harvard) 22:32.2
230. **Alice Hill (Michigan) 22:34.8
231. *Emily Lane (Furman) 22:35.1
232. **Kristen Garcia (Wisconsin) 22:36.1
233. *Carissa Dock (Minnesota) 22:37.2
234. *Melissa Zammitti (Cornell) 22:40.6
235. McKenna Keegan (Villanova) 22:41.8
236. Audrey Huelskamp (Cornell) 22:42.2
237. ***Nikki Merrill (Villanova) 22:42.7
238. ***Anna Mark-Helwigh (Villanova) 22:43.8
239. *India Johnson (Michigan State) 22:45.1
240. *Marissa Flournoy (Texas) 22:46.6
241. Bianca Alonzo (Columbia) 22:47.6
242. *Allie Schadler (Washington) 22:49.4
243. **Emily Virtue (Columbia) 22:53.3
244. *Hannah Behunin (Northern Arizona) 22:55.9
245. **Moira O’Shea (Oregon) 22:58.0
246. ***Katy Storti (Cornell) 23:07.2
247. ***Andrea Demko (Penn State) 23:14.5
248. ***Kathleen Shay (Ohio State) 23:17.5
249. *Emma Kuntz (Furman) 23:23.1
250. **Isabel Hebner (Texas) 23:28.7
251. *Judy Pendergast (Harvard) 23:31.2
252. ***Shaked Leibovitz (Harvard) 24:49.2;

… dnf—Emeline Delanis (BC), **Alice Newcombe (Tulsa).