By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Early morning thunderstorms caused delays and muddied Oklahoma State University’s cross country course. The Cowboys and Cowgirls didn’t let it rain on their parade as both won the Cowboy Jamboree on Saturday.
“We are running against a very good team,” coach Dave Smith said about the men. “I’m always anxious to run against a team like that. You want to win, especially on your home course, so I think we were ready to run hard. I wish we could have had more guys in contact with Northern Arizona’s top two, which is what we’ll need to do to win in November. We have a lot to work on, but a good day overall.”
Early morning thunderstorms delayed the races two hours. Northern Arizona is ranked No. 2, right behind Oklahoma State. The Cowboys had four of their five runners in the top 10, led by Kirubel Erassa, who finished second overall at 24:28.16. Shadrack Kipchirchir finished third by 39-hundreths of a second (24:28.55). Thomas Farrell finished sixth (24:36.42) and Joseph Manilafasha finished seventh at 24:47.67. Erassa finished behind Texas Tech’s Kennedy Kithuka (23:55.27), who is also the defending NCAA champion.
“It’s confidence for me,” Erassa said. “It’s confidence to go race at the next races — Big 12, regionals and nationals.”
Smith said Erassa has really stepped up this season.
“Kirubel had a really good spring and summer,” Smith said. “In the indoor season he was third with 7:49 — second fastest time in school history. He’s gained a lot of confidence. He’s maturing. He’s becoming the athlete that we recruited. He’s doing a great job. I think he’s going to keep improving. He’s not done yet. He could potentially be in the top 10 at nationals.”
Erassa said they kept a great pace the entire race.
“We just wanted to control the race,” Erassa said. “We don’t want to go that fast. This is our first race. We just paced ourselves where we are. We have a lot of work to do. It’s good to test ourselves and see where we are.”
The Cowgirls scored 51 points and were led by Monika Juodeskaite, who finished second overall at 17:30.73 Juodeskaite said the team did great and is excited about what it can do this season.
“I’m excited for the girls,” Juodeskaite said. “I hope we can do good this year. Be in the top at nationals and higher than we usually do.”
Juodeskaite did admit she didn’t run her best time, adding the conditions were tough.
“Everyone wanted to do better,” Juodeskaite said. “It was a tough course today after all the rain. I felt a little weak going uphill and hope I can improve my strengths up hill.”
Smith said they relied on their pre-meet strategy and that was let Juodeskaite to run ahead of the pack.
“We told Monika to go for it,” Smith said. “She just missed out on the individual win, but the girl who beat her could be a top-10 finisher at nationals. Monika will sharpen as the season goes on. We told the rest of the women to work together until there was about 1,500 meters left then to go for it. They did a great job. I could go down the list individually, but I was proud of the way they ran.”
OSU will return to action at the Pre-National Invitational on Oct. 19 in Terre Haute, Ind.