Nov. 14, 2009

Courtesy of Oklahoma State

Springfield, Mo. – Oklahoma State’s men’s cross country team finished 21 points clear of second-place Oklahoma to win its fifth-consecutive Midwest Region championship Saturday with seven runners earning all-Region honors on the day.

Senior David Chirchir paced the second-ranked Cowboys, finishing the 10,000-meter course in 31:03 for a ninth-place finish. Chirchir earned his third-consecutive all-Midwest region honor.

Senior John Kosgei finished 10th, senior Ryan Vail finished 11th, sophomore German Fernandez posted a 12th-place finish, while sophomores Colby Lowe and Girma Mecheso finished 13th and 14th, respectively. Senior Daniel Watts finished in 16th-place.

The Cowboys, which claimed their 12th region championship of all-time, turn their sights toward the NCAA Championships on Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.

“We wanted to run well enough as a team to win, but conservatively enough to save ourselves for the NCAA championships,” OSU coach Dave Smith said. “The guys executed the game plan well with Ryan Vail leading the group. He’s kind of our quarterback and we were happy with the result.”

Vail earned his fourth-career all-Region honor. Kosgei, Fernandez and Mecheso earned their second-consecutive all-Region honors, while Watts claimed the honor for the third time in his career.

The Cowgirls did not post a team place after having two runners injured during the race. Junior Mihaela Susa, who earned all-Region honors for the third year, once again led the Cowgirls with a seventh-place finish overall in the 6,000-meter race. She earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships with her performance.

Sophomore Victoria Fratczak finished in 27th place. Senior teammate Natalia Kovtun finished a second behind Fratczak in 28th place. Smith said the Cowgirls were in position for a sixth-place finish before the injuries and credited Susa, Fratczak, Kovtun and Alyse Goldsmith with running great races for the Cowgirls.

“Four women ran exceptional races, we had two women that didn’t finish the race and it is heartbreaking because they were in position for a sixth-place finish,” Smith said. “Mihaela earned the at-large bid and I’m happy for her, it was a good day for the women.”

Susa will be the first Cowgirl to represent the team at the NCAA Championships since 2005, when the Cowgirls posted a 10th-place finish as a team.

Men’s Results – 10,000 meters

Team Standings
1 Oklahoma State 50
2 Oklahoma 71
3 Iowa State 109
4 Minnesota 125
5 Southern Illinois 160

Individual OSU Finishers
9 David Chirchir 31:03
10 John Kosgei 31:03.2
11 Ryan Vail 31:03.2
12 German Fernandez 31:03.3
13 Colby Lowe 31:03.3
14 Girma Mecheso 31:03.9
16 Daniel Watts 31:05

Women’s Results – 6,000 meters

Team Standings
1 Minnesota 60
2 Illinois 86
3 Iowa State 106
4 Nebraska 147
5 Iowa 160

Individual OSU Finishers
7 Mihaela Susa 20:59.6
27 Victoria Fratczak 21:41.4
28 Natalia Kovtun 21:42.4
69 Alyse Goldsmith 22:37.0


Courtesy of Minnesota

The Minnesota women’s cross country captured the team title, and an automatic berth to the national meet, at the NCAA Midwest Region Championships in Springfield, Mo., on Saturday. The Golden Gophers landed all seven runners in the top 25 to earn all-region honors.

“We ran like a team on a mission,” said Golden Gopher head coach Gary Wilson. “After the Big Ten meet we felt we had a little something to prove today. This was by far our best team race of the season.”

Senior Megan Duwell paced the Gophers’ effort covering the 5-kilometer Missouri State course in a school-record time of 20 minutes, 14.5 seconds and capturing runner-up honors. Duwell’s time was almost five seconds faster than the previous Minnesota record mark of 20:19.3 set by Ladia Albertson-Junkans at the NCAA Championships in 2005.

Duwell battled Illinois’ Angela Bizzarri at the front of the pack for most of the race. Bizzarri, who finished second to Duwell’s third at the Big Ten Championships, edged ahead in the race’s final 500 meters to win in 20:07.5. Illinois finished second in the Midwest Region to earn the region’s other NCAA automatic qualifier.

The Gophers captured their third consecutive Midwest Region title compiling 60 team points. For the first time in Minnesota history, every Gopher competitor earned all-region accord.

Senior Amy Laskowske ran her finest race of the season finishing as the Gophers’ number-two runner and placing ninth overall. Laskowske was clocked in a career-best time of 21:04.5.

“Amy ran great today,” said Wilson. “She rebounded very well from a race (the Big Ten meet) where she was our ninth finisher.”

Senior Heather Dorniden posted her highest finish at a regional meet, placing 14th in a time of 21:15.4.

The three non-seniors of the Gopher lineup teamed to grab consecutive finishes at 19th, 20th and 21st. Sophomore Stephanie Price led the trio with a time of 21:26.9, followed by freshman Kayla Wagner at 21:28.5 and Nikki Swenson at 21:32.3.

Completing the Gophers’ lineup was senior Elizabeth Yetzer, who finished 25th in a time of 21:34.7. All four Gopher seniors – Duwell, Laskowske, Dorniden and Yetzer – are now three-time career all-region honorees.

Minnesota is one of 18 teams to earn automatic berths in the NCAA Cross Country Championships, which will be run on Monday, Nov. 24, in Terre Haute, Ind., The remainder the field for the national meet will be announced on Monday. The Gophers will make their fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships and their 10th over the last 13 years.