Verona, Wisconsin, September 28—No one told Wisconsin’s Alicia Monson or the Colorado women that they weren’t supposed to win titles at the Nuttycombe Invitational. But that they did, upending the formcharts in a sport that is nothing if unpredictable.
Monson, a Badger junior, ran fearlessly on her home course, convincingly finishing in 19:33.3 over the 6K route ahead of 4 top-10 national placers of a year ago. Trailing Monson, who was only 139th in Louisville a year ago, were New Mexico’s Weini Kelati (19:35.9) and defending national champ Ednah Kurgat (19:38.8), Colorado’s Dani Jones (19:39.6) and Boise State’s Allie Ostrander (19:40.4).
If you want to call the aforementioned “the usual suspects,” they were all in the early and very large lead pack, probably more akin to a swarm. Not a bad entry for Monson’s running résumé.
Perhaps somewhat less surprising, albeit noteworthy, was No. 2-ranked Colorado’s 80-point win off a 4-6-13-19-38 finish. That was good for an 11-point margin on Boise State (91) and a substantial 50-point edge on top-rated New Mexico (130). Villanova (156) and Arkansas (173) rounded out the top 5 in the 33-team field.
Monson, from Amery, Wisconsin, was Big 10 runner-up and an NCAA qualifier in the 5K last spring, so she’s no slouch, but this was a giant leap forward. “I wasn’t quite expecting it but I knew to just stay patient and stick with some of the best girls out there,” said Monson, who became the first Wisconsin woman to win the school’s premier home meet. “The coaches told me to stay controlled and stick behind the group because it was a little bit windy today. Whoever went last, I was just kind of waiting on them. “I knew if I got too much space I wouldn’t be able to make it up.”
Colorado has so often risen to the occasion in big meets and this was no exception. “This is the first serious race we’ve been in,” said Buff coach Mark Wetmore. “I think the women were careful and controlled, bearing in mind that there are 7 weeks to go [until the NCAA], so we were happy with the outcome.”
New Mexico, Arkansas, Villanova, Boise State and Columbia were among the team leaders 2K into the race, while Colorado was biding its time and, as is its wont, getting ready to pounce. Standing just 8th at the 2K mark, but with its top 4 runners bunched between 35th and 41st, the Buffs began their moves after that, eventually overcoming the low sticks of New Mexico in places 2-3-7.
Even at 4K there was still a lead pack of a dozen or so—with most critical to the team battle—but the top runners and teams were starting to assert themselves. By 5K, there were a half-dozen leaders, with Ostrander, Kelati and Kurgat looking primed to make their moves. But Monson was running powerfully and by the long finishing stretch it came down to her and Kelati. They battled over the last 50m with the loud Wisconsin crowd spurring the Badger to a 2-second win.
NUTTYCOMBE XC WOMEN’S RESULTS
Verona, Wisconsin, September 28 (6K)—
1. Colorado 80; 2. Boise State 91; 3. New Mexico 130; 4. Villanova 156; 5. Arkansas 173; 6. Wisconsin 192; 7. Indiana 208; 8. Michigan State 268; 9. Iowa State 276; 10. NC State 283.
1. *Alicia Monson (Wi) 19:33.3; 2. **Weini Kelati’ (NM) 19:35.9; 3. *Ednah Kurgat’ (NM) 19:38.8; 4. Dani Jones (Co) 19:39.6; 5. *Allie Ostrander (Boise) 19:40.4; 6. Makena Morley (Co) 19:45.2; 7. Charlotte Prouse’ (NM) 19:55.0; 8. ***Katrina Robinson’ (Ar) 19:55.3; 9. ***Emily Venters (Boise) 19:58.2; 10. *Clare O’Brien’ (Boise) 19:58.4;
11. Nicole Hutchinson (Vill) 19:58.9; 12. Caroline Alcorta (Vill) 20:00.0; 13. *Sage Hurta (Co) 20:00.5; 14. *Carina Viljoen’ (Ar) 20:00.9; 15. **Sinclaire Johnson (OkSt) 20:04.1; 16. Lauren LaRocco (Port) 20:04.6; 17. Jaci Smith (AF) 20:05.4; 18. Margaret Allen (In) 20:07.9; 19. *Tabor Scholl (Co) 20:08.0; 20. *Taylor Werner (Ar) 20:08.1;… 24. Katherine Receveur (In) 20:14.4;… 35. **Adva Cohen’ (NM) 20:28.1;… 38. Tayler Tuttle (Co) 20:32.5; 40. Val Constien (Co) 20:35.6;… 79. ***Holly Bent (Co) 21:02.5;… 83. *Hannah Nuttall’ (NM) 21:04.7. □