AMES, Iowa —
Oklahoma State men’s cross country, with one of its patented pack-running efforts, captured the 2013 NCAA Midwest Regional Cross Country Championship in Ames, Iowa, Friday.
With the 45-57 win over second-place Tulsa, the Cowboys earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships next Saturday.
OSU ran comfortably as a pack in the lead group from start to finish of the 10K race, as Tom Farrell (30:36.3), Shadrack Kipchirchir (30:36.6), Craig Nowak (30:36.9), Kirubel Erassa (30:41.3) and Joseph Manilafasha (30:42.5) finished in places 7-11, respectively. The group was separated by a total of 7.2 seconds.
“They did a really good job of running a poised and controlled race,” OSU coach Dave Smith said. “The goal was to get through, win the region and do it with as little damage as possible for next week, and I think we accomplished that. The guys in the front group ran a brilliant race. They never had to put the pedal to the metal. That’s a good situation.”
Erassa was able to finish 10th despite some trouble early in the race.
“I lost my shoe,” Erassa said. “Someone behind me stepped on it about five minutes in. I just had to be like, ‘Excuse me, guys!’ and run over to the side to put it on. I had to stay calm and not try to gain back a bunch of ground immediately. I was able to do it.”
On the women’s side, Monika Juodeskaite ran the 6K race in 20:34.4 to finish seventh overall. After taking away the finishers who ran on national qualifying teams, Juodeskaite was fourth, meaning she qualified as an individual.
As a team, the OSU women finished third, and will need an at-large bid to qualify for the NCAA championships.
“It’s bittersweet,” Smith said. “This is the first time in the last four years our women aren’t automatically going to the national championships. That hurts. We’ve dealt with a lot of adversity and had a lot of women who we thought were going to be here, who aren’t here. They could have folded up, but they went out, fought and got third in the region. Now we have to wait and see if we get an at-large bid. Monika Juodeskaite has been dinged up and missed some time, but she is really mentally tough. She knew what she had to do to get that fourth spot, and she went out and did exactly that. I’m really happy for her. She wasn’t going to be denied.”
OSU cross country will be back in action Nov. 23 at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.