Saturday’s six NCAA Cross Country Championships were rife with resplendent races, and the first of the day might’ve been the most dominant.
New Mexico’s Ednah Kurgat lined up Saturday morning with four wins in four tries this season after transferring from Liberty and sitting out the 2016-17 athletic season. Kurgat darted out to a strong start, made a strong move to overtake a few rabbit runners before the midway point, and torched the DI women’s field, beating every other runner.
Ednah Kurgat is the move that won her the individual title: "Breaking away from the group was so hard. My worry was to burn out towards the end. I was trying as much as possible to conserve myself just in case anything happened." #NCAAXC— USTFCCCA (@USTFCCCA) November 18, 2017
But the most impressive part wasn’t her place, or her perfect season, or her margin of victory. It was the five digits and two colons blinking on the timer as she crossed the finish line:
Kurgat ran the 6K race in 19:19.5, a new DI women’s championship record — by more than eight seconds, breaking a five-year-old record from Iowa State’s Betsy Saina, who finished fifth in the 10K at the 2016 Summer Olympics. (Both Kurgat and Saina hail from Eldoret, Kenya.)
By the end of the day, Kurgat had led her Lobos team to the team title as well, but the most impressive part of Saturday’s DI races in Louisville was her personal victory.
Kurgat still has two years of NCAA eligibility left, which means she — and the Lobos — likely aren’t done just yet.