NCAA Women’s XC — Titles To NC State & Orton

NC State coach Laurie Henes with her winning team (l–r): Kelsey Chmiel, Katelyn Tuohy, Alexandra Hayes, Hannah Steelman, Samantha Bush, Dominique Clairemonte, Heather Holt. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA, November 20 — The expected fast race in this year’s NCAA Women’s XC Championship lived up to its billing as BYU’s Whittni Orton claimed the individual crown and NC State dominated the field to claim the team title under near-perfect racing conditions.

The Florida State women went out hard on their home course and set the tone for the race as their top runner, Lauren Ryan, reached the 2K split in 6:30.3. Some 65 runners were within 5 seconds, giving an indication of the depth of the field and its willingness to follow a hard pace.

By 3K Notre Dame soph Maddy Denner eschewed the timing mats for the favorable tangent track of the course to lead Florida frosh Parker Valby and West Virginia soph Ceili McCabe as they passed the finish line area lined with fans. For McCabe, who had won both the Big 12 and Nuttycombe Invitational, the race lived up to her expectations.

“It was a really exiting race and one of the most fun to run in this season,” said McCabe, who would end up 3rd in 19:29.5. “I think I got out hard. I was able to keep my composure when I was a little further behind than I expected. I really got into a rhythm and was able to run the middle part of the race fairly honest.”

Looming in the back of the pack were Orton and defending champ Mercy Chelangat of Alabama, which was uncharacteristic for the two.

“I’ve kind of known to push it and take the lead,” said Orton, who saw Chelangat at times but felt she was following her most of the race. “I thought a lot of people were holding back today, but I wasn’t going to push it. I actually didn’t want to go that early. The plan was to hang back a little bit.”

Though Valby and McCabe continued to lead the pack, Orton, Chelangat and a pack of 31 were still within 2 seconds at 4K. By that time, Orton was feeling better than expected and decided it was time to go.

“That wasn’t the plan, but I felt really good and we were almost done so I wanted to spread it out a little bit so my chances were better. I just wanted to give myself the best shot.”

Orton went to the front and led with McCabe through 5K in 16:24.8 with the only hill on the course remaining, aptly named “The Wall,” as the only obstacle seemingly in the way of Orton’s victory.

Chelangat could not cover Orton’s move. Though she made a move of her own, it was too little too late. Orton dashed up the hill to the win in 19:25.4 to Chelangat’s 19:29.3 — the time gap was all made in the final kilo.

“I just wanted it so bad today, “said Orton, racing in a BYU uniform for the last time. “It feels incredible. The ups and downs and being a senior. It’s been really hard. The comeback can be greater than the setback so that’s really good.”

For BYU coach Diljeet Taylor, Orton’s win was a special one. “It was a long time coming,” she said. “We don’t count that as an individual win. That win for Whitni Orton was a team win. We all felt that. We’re super proud of her. She has been so relentless and resilient and every comeback that she has had. I couldn’t imagine it ending on a better note than it did today.”

Teammate Lexy Halladay, sporting a tattoo with “BYUrun4her” that all the Cougars wore on the back of their shoulders, went one step further declaring,” We’d rather have Whittni win than have a team win.”

Behind Orton and Chelangat, the team race played out. A whopping 43 went under the 20-minute barrier. Before ’21, only 15 had broken 20:00 in the 6K course’s history. For NC State, that was a good thing.

Tallahassee has been good to the Wolfpack program. Last time the Nationals were held here, the pre-NCAA AIAW in ’79, they came away with the title. Today they came away with a 38-point win over defending champ BYU, 84-122.

At the helm back in ’79 was Rollie Geiger. The now 73-year-old Geiger turned the reins over in 2006 to his former runner and protégé, Laurie Henes, without winning an NCAA title. Here he watched as Henes brought home the first NCAA women’s team championship in school history after 35 appearances, the most in NCAA history and dating back to ’81.

“It’s special,” said Geiger after being asked what it was like to watch Henes bring home the title. “I’ve said this often. Laurie is the best coach in women’s cross country and she has proved that time after time. They are so impressive in practice. They run as a group. It’s a joy to actually watch. It’s not a surprise what they did today because they do it every day in practice.”

The heavily favored Wolfpack left no doubt who was the best team Saturday. They led at every checkpoint and lowered their score from a high of 119 to the final score 84. No team could match their top 5 as the Wolfpack put their quintet in front of everyone’s top 4 to win comfortably.

Henes’ plan was to run as a group and keep the spread between her top 5 low. “They’ve been in running within 10–20 seconds of each other,” she explained. “If we did that and lost, then we lost, but we figured if we did that we’d have a pretty good result.”

BYU mounted the best challenge of the group, but Taylor said it just wasn’t enough:

“The performance they put on together today was perfection. We weren’t going to win. We could have a few things better in our favor; we didn’t start out too well. For us to come in and get 2nd and fight for that 2nd-place finish, I’m so proud of that fight. I am really happy for Laurie. We were 2nd in 2019. They were 2nd last year. It’s kind of nice to come back and get the win. It’s nice that she is a female coach and we both go 1–2.”


NCAA XC WOMEN’S RESULTS

Tallahassee, Florida November 20 —

Teams
(adjusted places)

1. NC State 6–14–18–20–26 (75–122) 84
2. BYU 1–11–30–37–43 (131–135) 122
3. New Mexico 15–17–28–32–38 (46–113) 130
4. Colorado 8–25–44–48–62 (68–76) 187
5. Notre Dame 9–10‑51–65–80 (152–182) 215

6. Stanford 233; 7. Minnesota 313; 8. Arkansas 328; 9. Iowa State 332; 10. Mississippi 350; 11. Washington 366; 12. Wisconsin 376; 13. Oklahoma State 404;
14. North Carolina 405; 15. Alabama 428; 16. Michigan State 438; 17. Colorado St. 455; 18. Georgetown 464; 19. Florida State 468; 20. Utah 483;
21. West Virginia 489; 22. Michigan 500; 23. Northern Arizona 532; 24. Oregon 534; 25. Harvard 541; 26. Providence 594; 27. Villanova 605; 28. Utah State 638; 29. Butler 660; 30. Syracuse 768; 31. Rice 811.

Individuals
†=not in team scoring
6000m (255 started, 250 finished)

1. Whittni Orton (BYU) 19:25.4
2. *Mercy Chelangat’ (Al-Ken) 19:29.3
3. **Ceili McCabe’ (WV-Can) 19:29.5
4. Cailie Logue (IaSt) 19:29.8
5. *Taylor Roe (OkSt) 19:33.5
6. **Kelsey Chmiel (NCSt) 19:34.6
7. Bethany Hasz (Mn) 19:36.4
8. Abby Nichols (Co) 19:37.6
9. **Maddy Denner (NDm) 19:37.7
10. †Kayley DeLay (Yale) 19:37.7
11. **Olivia Markezich (NDm) 19:38.0
12. Anna Camp (BYU) 19:39.3
13. Julia Heymach (Stan) 19:41.9
14. Jenna Magness (MiSt) 19:42.1
15. ***Katelyn Tuohy (NCSt) 19:43.1
16. †Joyce Kimeli’ (Aub-Ken) 19:43.4
17. †***Tori Herman (Ky) 19:44.4
18. ***Emma Heckel (NM) 19:45.0
19. *Lauren Gregory (Ar) 19:46.1
20. †Alison Pray (SnUt) 19:47.2
21. **Gracelyn Larkin’ (NM-Can) 19:47.9
22. Alexandra Hays (NCSt) 19:48.2
23. Megan Hasz (Mn) 19:48.9
24. Hannah Steelman (NCSt) 19:49.6
25. Allie Schadler (Wa) 19:49.8
26. Lauren Ryan (FlSt) 19:50.1
27. †***Parker Valby (Fl) 19:50.3
28. †Calli Doan (Lib) 19:50.6
29. **Flomena Asekol’ (Al-Ken) 19:51.0
30. **Maggie Donahue (Gtn) 19:51.3
31. ***Emily Covert (Co) 19:51.8
32. **Samantha Bush (NCSt) 19:52.9
33. **Sintayehu Vissa’ (Ms-Ita) 19:53.2
34. †**Ruby Smee’ (USF-Aus) 19:53.6
35. †Summer Allen (Web) 19:54.3
36. Stefanie Parsons (NM) 19:54.6
37. **Isabel Van Camp (Ar) 19:54.7
38. *Aubrey Frentheway (BYU) 19:55.7
39. Abby Kohut-Jackson (Mn) 19:56.8
40. †***Bethany Graham (Furm) 19:57.6
41. Adva Cohen’ (NM-Isr) 19:58.0
42. *Taryn O’Neill (NnAz) 19:58.2
43. Krissy Gear (Ar) 19:59.1
44. *Sami Corman (Gtn) 20:01.0
45. **Grace Forbes (Rice) 20:01.8
46. McKenna Lee (BYU) 20:02.0
47. *Abbe Goldstein (NM) 20:02.7
48. Lynsie Gram (MiSt) 20:03.2
49. ***Lucy Jenks (Stan) 20:04.1
50. Ashley Tutt (IaSt) 20:07.2
51. Bella Williams (Ut) 20:07.9
52. †Emily Mackay (Bing) 20:08.4
53. Sara Musselman (BYU) 20:08.6
54. Rachel McArthur (Co) 20:09.4
55. Esther Gitahi’ (Al-Ken) 20:09.8
56. ***Amelia Mazza-Downie’ (NM-Aus) 20:11.3
57. Christina Aragon (Stan) 20:11.6
58. India Johnson (Co) 20:11.7
59. †Billie Hatch (Web) 20:12.0
60. ***Laura Mooney (Prov) 20:13.1
61. *Gabby Hentemann (OkSt) 20:13.3
62. Lauren Bailey (NDm) 20:14.0
63. ***Zofia Dudek’ (Stan-Pol) 20:14.6
64. Aneta Konieczek’ (Or-Pol) 20:14.7
65. ***Brynn Brown (NC) 20:15.0
66. †***Addie Engel (OhSt) 20:15.4
67. ***Kelsey Harrington (NC) 20:16.2
68. Alissa Niggemann (Wi) 20:16.3
69. ***Katelynne Hart (Mi) 20:16.6
70. †Katie Camarena (PortSt) 20:17.0
71. **Ryann Helmers (Ms) 20:17.3
72. †Lindsey Stallworth (ETn) 20:17.8
73. Molly Born (OkSt) 20:19.5
74. Anna Elkin (Ms) 20:20.0
75. Pipi Eitel (NnAz) 20:20.1
76. Micaela Degenero (Co) 20:20.2
77. †**Kaylee Mitchell (OrSt) 20:20.3
78. Clio Ozanne-Jaques’ (Ms-Aus) 20:21.1
79. **Kayla Windemuller (Mi) 20:21.3
80. ***Erin Strzelecki (NDm) 20:23.4
81. Katie Struthers (UtSt) 20:23.9
82. †*Rachel McCardell (NWn) 20:24.0
83. **Victoria Heiligenthal (Wi) 20:24.7
84. †***Fiona Max (Prin) 20:25.1
85. ***Hannah Miniutti (Co) 20:25.2
86. *Cara Woolnough (Ut) 20:25.3
87. †**Sammi Ragenklint (Monm) 20:25.8
88. *Lily Tomasula-Martin (CoSt) 20:26.1
89. Maria Coffin (Prov) 20:26.1
90. †*Kristen Garcia (Gonz) 20:26.4
91. *Haley Herberg (Wa) 20:26.9
92. *†Annabelle Eastman’ (GM-Aus) 20:27.1
93. ***Sadie Sigfstead (Vill) 20:27.5
94. ***Annabel Stafford (CoSt) 20:28.1
95. *Heather Holt (NCSt) 20:28.1
96. Madie Boreman (Co) 20:28.6
97. **Maggie Smith (Vill) 20:29.1
98. **Alexa Westley (Wi) 20:29.5
99. *Lydia Olivere (Vill) 20:30.4
100. *Katie Rose Blachowicz (NDm) 20:31.0
101. †**Lona Latema (Ks) 20:31.2
102. Sophie Cantine (Wa) 20:31.2
103. ***Audrey Suarez (Stan) 20:31.3
104. *Winrose Chesang’ (IaSt-Ken) 20:31.4
105. *Mikaela Lucki (WV) 20:31.6
106. **Dana Feyen (IaSt) 20:32.3
107. *Lucinda Crouch’ (Wi-Aus) 20:32.6
108. *Ericka VanderLende (Mi) 20:33.2
109. †Ellie Leather’ (Cinc-GB) 20:33.7
110. ***Maia Ramsden (Harv) 20:33.8
111. †*Perri Bockrath (Ky) 20:34.1
112. Danielle Orie (Wi) 20:34.2
113. ***Sasha Neglia (NC) 20:34.7
114. **Madison Heisterman (Wa) 20:35.0
115. Maudie Skyring’ (FlSt-Aus) 20:35.1
116. **Rebecca Clark (FlSt) 20:35.6
117. †***Tierney Wolfgram (Nv) 20:35.6
118. Ariel Keklak (Ut) 20:37.0
119. Kami Hankins (But) 20:37.1
120. Angelina Ellis (But) 20:37.3
121. Judy Pendergast (Harv) 20:37.5
122. ***Carlee Hansen (NC) 20:37.8
123. Sylvia Russell (WV) 20:38.2
124. †***Phoebe Anderson (Col) 20:38.3
125. †**Irene Rono’ (ACU-Ken) 20:38.3
126. Anna Juul’ (Harv-Den) 20:38.7
127. ***Naomi Smith (Wa) 20:39.0
128. Lauren Offerman (CoSt) 20:39.3
129. **Samantha Stieve (Wi) 20:39.4
130. **Ashlyn Hillyard (CoSt) 20:39.5
131. **Claudia Burgess (CoSt) 20:39.7
132. *Baylee Jones (Gtn) 20:40.7
133. ***Kaitlyn Hynes (MiSt) 20:43.8
134. ***Natalie Tyner (NC) 20:43.8
135. Micaela Rivera (UtSt) 20:44.2
136. *Jesselyn Bries (NnAz) 20:44.6
137. ***Alessia Zarbo’ (Or-Fra) 20:44.6
138. †Erika Freyhof (Nb) 20:44.7
139. **Meghan Underwood (Ar) 20:44.8
140. ***Aliandrea Upshaw (NM) 20:44.8
141. †Michelle Joyce (Tem) 20:44.9
142. *Malia Pivec (Or) 20:45.1
143. †***Joy Chirchir’ (Tol-Ken) 20:46.4
144. †Sophie Murphy’ (Iona-Ire) 20:46.5
145. **Ivy Gonzales (CoSt) 20:46.5
146. **Katie Osika (MiSt) 20:46.8
147. **Eloise Freitag (Harv) 20:47.8
148. *Anastasia Korzenowski’ (Mn-Pol) 20:48.1
149. †*Beth Ramos (Tx) 20:48.4
150. **Madelynn Hill (IaSt) 20:48.6
151. Amanda Beach (FlSt) 20:48.6
152. ***Ava Dobson (NC) 20:48.7
153. Dominique Clairmonte (NCSt) 20:49.2
154. *Emilie Girard (Or) 20:49.2
155. ***Emily Chaston (CoSt) 20:49.2
156. †*Emma Tate (Pur) 20:49.5
157. **Katherine Dowie (WV) 20:49.6
158. ***Chloe Scrimgeour (Gtn) 20:50.6
159. ***Grace Connolly (Stan) 20:51.1
160. ***Shannon Flockhart (Prov) 20:51.6
161. ***Savannah Roark (Syr) 20:51.9
162. *Keelah Barger (Ut) 20:52.5
163. †*Katy-Ann McDonald’ (LSU-GB 20:52.5
164. **Lexy Halladay (BYU) 20:52.7
165. Paige Hofstad (NC) 20:53.6
166. ***Harper McClain (Or) 20:54.0
167. *Caramia Mestler (Or) 20:54.1
168. †Ashlyn Ramos (Buck) 20:54.5
169. **Anna Martin (BYU) 20:55.7
170. *Abigail Spiers (Syr) 20:55.9
171. *Julia Paternain’ (Ar-GB) 20:56.2
172. *Jaycie Thomsen (Mn) 20:56.3
173. **Isabell Sagar (Harv) 20:56.5
174. Clarissa Morales (OkSt) 20:56.8
175. *Erin Phelps (FlSt) 20:57.4
176. *Kristel van den Berg (Ms) 20:57.5
177. Stella Gillman (Wi) 20:57.5
178. ***Loral Winn (Ms) 20:57.7
179. **Samantha Tran (Mi) 20:58.5
180. *Gracie Hyde (Ar) 20:58.8
181. Alice Hill (Mi) 20:59.3
182. Lisha van Onselen (Ut) 20:59.9
183. Logan Jolly (Ar) 21:00.0
184. Kelsey Ramirez (OkSt) 21:00.0
185. *Abby Jensen (UtSt) 21:00.7
186. Madeleine King (NDm) 21:04.1
187. *Mia Beckham (But) 21:05.1
188. *Bailey Brinkerhoff (UtSt) 21:06.3
189. ***Quinn Shanahan (But) 21:07.4
190. **Stephanie Moss’ (OkSt-GB) 21:07.9
191. *Anna Gibson (Wa) 21:08.2
192. **Morgan French (UtSt) 21:08.8
193. **Jami Reed (Al) 21:09.1
194. ***Isabelle Goldstein (Harv) 21:09.6
195. Emily Royston (But) 21:09.9
196. **Elise Stearns (NnAz) 21:10.0
197. ***Makenna Veen (MiSt) 21:10.5
198. **Makayla Perez (MiSt) 21:10.9
199. Annie Boos (Syr) 21:11.3
200. Delaney Rasmussen (NnAz) 21:12.5
201. **Lily Tuck (Prov) 21:12.9
202. ***Reilly Zink (Syr) 21:14.2
203. *Jennifer Lima (FlSt) 21:14.5
204. ***Sydney Nowicki (Syr) 21:16.0
205. Meagan Van Pelt (NnAz) 21:16.7
206. **Janette Schraft (IaSt) 21:17.0
207. Kiera Bothwell (Gtn) 21:17.2
208. **Skylar Boogerd (Ms) 21:17.5
209. **Sophia Jacobs-Townsley (Syr) 21:18.4
210. ***Audrey Dadamio (Stan) 21:19.1
211. *Samantha Saenz (Mi) 21:20.0
212. Hayley Jackson (WV) 21:20.4
213. ***Kimberley May (Prov) 21:20.5
214. *Bryn Morley (NnAz) 21:20.9
215. ***Brenna Cohoon (IaSt) 21:21.1
216. *Jocelyn Long (NDm) 21:21.5
217. Lourdes Vivas de Lorenzi (Rice) 21:23.4
218. ***Emma Thornley (UtSt) 21:23.6
219. ***Chloe Gonzalez (Gtn) 21:24.1
220. †**Prudence Kiyeng’ (ACU-Ken) 21:26.2
221. *Orla O’Connor (Prov) 21:26.2
222. **Anna Helwigh (Vill) 21:29.5
223. *Tate Sweeney (Mn) 21:32.4
224. McKenna Keegan (Vill) 21:33.8
225. *Katie Dammer (Gtn) 21:36.7
226. **Caitlin Wosika (Rice) 21:39.7
227. *Alex O’Neill (Prov) 21:41.2
228. *Abby Gray (UtSt) 21:42.1
229. Carissa Dock (Mn) 21:42.5
230. **Taigen Hunter-Galvan (Rice) 21:43.9
231. *Julia Vanitvelt (Mi) 21:49.8
232. Arina Kleshchukova’ (NO-Kgz) 21:50.2
233. ***Marianne Mihas (Harv) 21:53.5
234. *Maddie McLain (But) 21:54.4
235. *Megan Patton (Al) 21:56.5
236. **Melanie Helder (MiSt) 21:57.6
237. ***Nicole Louw (Or) 21:58.4
238. **Rilee Rigdon (OkSt) 21:58.5
239. *Leahrose Mami (Al) 22:13.1
240. **Justus Holden-Betts (Syr) 22:13.8
241. ***Maria Kaylor (WV) 22:25.0
242. *Alyssa Balandran (Rice) 22:28.4
243. *Charlotte Wood (WV) 22:33.0
244. ***Sophie O’Sullivan (Wa) 22:40.6
245. **Rachel Shoemaker (Rice) 22:40.8
246. ***Haley Allen (Rice) 22:43.7
247. ***Katherine Olsen (But) 22:44.5
248. ***Elizabeth Vaughn (Vill) 22:46.9
249. ***Emily Robinson (Vill) 22:51.6
250. *Riley Schelp (Al) 23:14.7

… dnf—***Agnes Tighe (FlSt), ***Caitlin Wilkey (FlSt), *Anneka Murrin (Loy/Ch), *Emily Venters (Ut), ***Simone Plourde’ (Ut-Can).