Nuttycombe XC — Team Favorites Roll

Running her home course, Wisconsin’s Alicia Monson surged away from Weni Kelati in the last mile. (MIKE SCOTT)

VERONA, WISCONSIN, October 18—It was a very good day to be numero uno at the Nuttycombe Invitational. Northern Arizona’s top-ranked men and Arkansas’s No. 1-rated women showed why they are prime among the teams to be reckoned with in the NCAA 5 weeks hence. And top individual returnees Edwin Kurgat of Iowa State and Alicia Monson of Wisconsin served notice, emphatically, that November could be their big month as well.

Mike Smith’s ultra-deep NAU squad is simply loaded, and appears primed to cruise to its fourth straight national title after putting on another clinic with Luis Grijalva (5th), Geordie Beamish (8th) and Abdihamid Nur (9th). Theo Quax was 16th and fifth man Drew Bosley, running 100M from home, was 21st. Also scary for other would-be contenders is that Beamish is the only senior in the young Lumberjack top 7.

Lance Harter’s Arkansas’s women seem ready, willing and able to make a run to the top of the podium for the first time in their storied history; the Razorbacks have been runners-up 4 times.

NAU scored 59 for its win, its fourth straight in the Nutty and fifth consecutive win on the Zimmer course following its NCAA title last year. Showing their overwhelming dominance, the Lumberjacks had their top 5 in before any other team’s third man—in a field with 19 ranked teams. Stanford was a solid 2nd with 133 off a 3–4 finish by Alex Ostberg and Thomas Ratcliffe, while Tulsa (175) showed up big in 3rd as Iowa State (180) and UCLA (219) filled out the first 5.

Arkansas’s women won convincingly enough with 62 points off a 3-5-7-9-38 finish, trailed by Stanford (98), NC State (203), Wisconsin (217) and Michigan State (219) among the 36 teams.

In the women’s individual race, it was a battle of NCAA track champs, with Monson (indoor 5K) covering a move by New Mexico’s Weini Kelati (10K), and then some, taking command with a mile to go in easing to a 19:39.3 victory over the 6K course. Kelati was clocked in 19:48 with Arkansas’s Taylor Werner 3rd in 19:52, Stanford’s Fiona O’Keeffe 4th (19:55) and Arkansas’s Katie Izzo fifth (19:59). Badger senior Monson played it smart in the face of a 15mph wind and tucked in, patiently biding her time in a large lead pack until Kelati made a move shortly after 3.2K, which she promptly covered, and then made her own big surge with a mile left. Obviously, knowing the course and all its nooks and crannies helps.

“My strength plays well to the hills on the course,” Monson said, and as always, credited the enthusiastic crowd for helping her. It didn’t hurt, either, that Monson had confidence born out of outkicking Kelati at the indoor meet. Monson opined that this was just the start of something big after a “great summer of training,” and noted that “we’re still building up. I’m not expecting this to be my best race.” It didn’t have to be, but it sure set a tone for the upcoming championship meets.

On the men’s side, Kurgat, 3rd last year here in the nationals behind the graduated Morgan McDonald and Grant Fisher, exhibited patience as Notre Dame all-American Danny Kilrea braved the wind en route to an early lead. But the field came back, and the race was afoot. Abounding with all the usual suspects, including virtually all of NAU’s top 7, the pack held firm and Kurgat kept within himself until breaking away at 6K, per his race plan. He was never again seriously threatened although ’18 NCAA 1500 champ Ollie Hoare of Wisconsin roared into 2nd up the finishing straight with a blistering kick.

No matter. It was all Kurgat in 23:29.4 for a decidedly easy win over the 8K route, with Hoare 10 seconds back, followed by the Stanford duo and then Grijalva leading the NAU deluge.

Kurgat built on his experience of last year to win it. “A year ago I was still trying to learn and didn’t know a lot about racing,” he said. “This was just a way for me to show that I’m getting into that level of top individuals. It was windy and I just had to stay patient and make a move with 2K to go.”


Men’s Teams

1. Northern Arizona 59; 2. Stanford 133; 3. Tulsa 175; 4. Iowa State 180; 5. UCLA 219; 6. Purdue 255; 7. Indiana 280; 8. Wisconsin 292; 9. Portland 295; 10. Oregon 323; 11. Michigan 329; 12. Boise State 369; 13. Southern Utah 391; 14. Utah State 396; 15. Notre Dame 434; 16. Gonzaga 435; 17. Princeton 478; 18. Virginia 492; 19. Furman 510; 20. Georgetown 539.

Men’s Individuals (8K/4.97M)

1. Edwin Kurgat (IaSt) 23:29.4; 2. Oliver Hoare (Wi) 23:39.1; 3. Alex Ostberg (Stan) 23:41.4; 4. *Thomas Ratcliffe (Stan) 23:41.5; 5. *Luis Grijalva (NnAz) 23:43.2; 6. Robert Brandt (UCLA) 23:44.1; 7. *Morgan Beadlescomb (MiSt) 23:47.3; 8. Geordie Beamish (NnAz) 23:48.5; 9. ***Abdihamid Nur (NnAz) 23:48.6; 10. Kyle Mau (In) 23:49.6;

11. Ryan Adams (Furm) 23:50.0; 12. *Cooper Teare (Or) 23:51.9; 13. ***Ezekiel Kibichii (EnKy) 23:54.7; 14. *Peter Lynch (Tuls) 23:56.1; 15. **James Mwaura (Gonz) 23:56.5; 16. ***Theo Quax (NnAz) 23:56.7; 17. *Ben Veatch (In) 23:57.1; 18. Colin Burke (UCLA) 23:57.2; 19. Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse (Port) 23:57.3; 20. **Amir Ado (WaSt) 23:58.2.

Women’s Teams

1. Arkansas 62; 2. Stanford 98; 3. North Carolina St. 203; 4. Wisconsin 217; 5. Michigan State 219; 6. Northern Arizona 251; 7. Boise State 282; 8. Air Force 298; 9. New Mexico 302; 10. Furman 309; 11. Utah 309; 12. Notre Dame 336; 13. Ohio State 393; 14. Oregon 405; 15. Indiana 450; 16. Minnesota 474; 17. Columbia 480; 18. Tulsa 506; 19. Georgetown 529; 20. Missouri 560.

Women’s Individuals (6K/3.73M)

1. Alicia Monson (Wi) 19:39.3; 2. *Weini Kelati (NM) 19:48.6; 3. Taylor Werner (Ar) 19:52.2; 4. Fiona O’Keeffe (Stan) 19:55.4; 5. Katie Izzo (Ar) 19:59.4; 6. *Ella Donaghu (Stan) 20:04.7; 7. Devin Clark (Ar) 20:05.8; 8. Gabrielle Jennings (Furm) 20:07.7; 9. Carina Viljoen (Ar) 20:09.8; 10. Anna Rohrer (NDm) 20:10.3;

11. ***Maddy Denner (NDm) 20:11.0; 12. *Jessica Lawson (Stan) 20:11.4; 13. Annie Fuller (MiSt) 20:13.2; 14. Elly Henes (NCSt) 20:13.7; 15. Amy Davis (Wi) 20:14.0; 16. **Bailey Hertenstein (In) 20:17.9; 17. Susan Ejore (Or) 20:20.3; 18. Ednah Kurgat (NM) 20:22.1; 19. Savannah Carnahan (Furm) 20:23.0; 20. **Taryn O’Neill (NnAz) 20:23.3. ◻︎