North Central Men, Wis.-Eau Claire Women Claim Cross Country Crowns
Nov. 21, 2009
|Women's Team Results||Women's Indiv. Results|
|Men's Team Results||Men's Indiv. Results|
By Jason Lloyd
Special to NCAA.com
CLEVELAND - As he entered the chute, Lynchburg senior Ricky Flynn grabbed his head, then pumped both hands in the air.
There was no need for a strong finish, he had already won the Division III men's cross country national championship on the final hill.
Flynn outlasted last year's champion, Hamilton's Peter Kosgei, pulling away in the final mile on a soggy course to the finish in 25 minutes, 9.8 seconds and win his first national championship as a senior.
Flynn estimated he was trailing Kosgei by about five seconds with a mile to go. That's when the two approached the final hill, and Flynn pulled away.
"He was hurting. I saw it and said `I'm going.' I pushed it and passed him," Flynn said. "I saw him slowing down and I thought he was just playing with me. I thought he was going to run with me and try to outkick me, but I took advantage of the hill at the end."
Kosgei collapsed shy of the finish line. He wound up 43rd.
Flynn's 22-second victory over North Central (Ill.) junior Michael Spain is one of the largest in the 37-year history of the men's Division III race. He admitted running beside the defending champion can be intimidating.
"You just have to fight through it," he said. "He's human just like everyone else. You just have to believe in yourself. This was the goal since my freshman year."
Spain's second-place finish led North Central to an incredibly low 50-point day. The Cardinals ran away with the team championship - they're 131-point victory over second-place Williams College is the largest in the history of the Division III men's national meet.
"I didn't care about my personal finish, but was more focused on the team goal," Spain said. "Our goal was to win the national championship. This is the best feeling possible. We have so much pride in our program. We felt we owed it to the college to bring home a title."
It was North Central's 13th team championship in school history, but first since 1999.
All seven of North Central's runners finished in the top 35 to earn All-American status, even though only the top five counted in the team scoring. Senior Ryan Carrigan was sixth, senior Nathaniel Hird was 13th, sophomore Neal Klein was 19th, senior Kyle Brady was 21st, sophomore Ben Sathre was 26th and senior Sean Carlson was 32nd.
"These young men have character," North Central coach Al Carius said. "They have different ingredients and they mixed them together to win a championship."
The Cardinals have dominated throughout the postseason. They entered nationals ranked No. 1 by the U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association and they won the Midwest Regional this year with a meet-record low of 21 points.
"The process started many years ago with these seniors," Carius said. "I knew we had something when they first arrived here. I just had to put it all together. They had faith in the system and faith in their teammates."
The second place finish was a pleasant surprise for Williams, which entered the meet ranked 10th by the USTCCCA. Allegheny was third, NYU was fourth and SUNY-Cortland, which won the team event last year, finished fifth.
Williams senior Edgar Kosgey finished third, St. Lawrence junior Dan Ramsey was fourth and Wisconsin-Platteville junior Jason Garvens was fifth.