Texas Tech junior Kennedy Kithuka is the upset winner in the individual race.
LOUISVILLE, KY — The men’s 10-kilometer contest was far less dramatic than the women’s race at this morning’s NCAA Cross Country Championships. Oklahoma State dominated the team competition with 72 points, about half of what second place University of Wisconsin scored (135). Their top three men — Girma Mecheso, Tom Farrell and Shadrack Kipchirchir — all finished in the top-11 of the team scoring. The University of Colorado finished third with 158 points.
“I’m proud of them,” coach Dave Smith said of his Cowboys team. “Some guys came through big-time today: Joseph Manilafasha (24th/17th team scoring), had an awesome race. Obviously, our front three, I knew they were good. I mean, our top-3 have been great all year for us.”
In the individual contest, Texas Tech junior Kennedy Kithuka scored a mild upset in beating Arizona’s Lawi Lalang, the defending champion, and his Arizona teammate Stephen Sambu. Off of a very fast early pace (4:32 for the opening mile), Kithuka surged to the lead just past the halfway point and ran away with the title in a course record 28:31.3.
“After 5K I went and I see they were relaxing,” Kithuka said of Lalang and Sambu. “Then I broke away. That was my plan.”
Lalang ended up third in 28:51.8, well behind Sambu (28:38.6). He said he knew in the early going that it wasn’t his day.
“I knew I was actually losing from the start,” Lalang lamented. “I didn’t feel OK like I usually feel. You know what? Let me just conserve my energy. The next season’s coming (indoor track). I was already moving ahead.”
Men’s Results (10K):
Teams: 1. Oklahoma State, 72 points; 2. Wisconsin, 135; 3. Colorado, 158; 4. Northern Arizona, 191; Florida State, 238…
1. Kennedy Kithuka, JR, Texas Tech (KEN), 28:31.3 CR
2. Stephen Sambu, SR, Arizona (KEN), 28:38.6
3. Lawi Lalang, SO, Arizona (KEN), 28:51.8
4. Anthony Rotich, FR, UTEP (KEN), 29:13.5
=5. Girma Mecheso, SR, OK State (ETH), 29:14.8
=5. Henry Lelei, SR, Texas A&M (KEN), 29:14.8
7. David Rooney, SR, McNeese State, 29:21.3
8. Mohammed Ahmed, SR, Wisconsin (CAN), 29:23.9
9. Tom Farrell, JR, OK State (GBR), 29:26.3
10. Paul Chelimo, JR, UNC-Greensboro (KEN), 29:29.8