The races featured most of the top teams and individuals in the NCAA.
The NCAA Pre-National Invitational took place this weekend in Terre Haute, Ind., and there were more than a few surprises. All four races were won by top-5 caliber individuals and showcased some of the top teams in the running for a national title when the world of collegiate cross country returns to Terre Haute next month. Here’s a quick recap of the four races and what we learned from them.
Men’s Blue Race
Teams: The #7 Oregon Ducks proved they are legit as they handily beat #3 Alabama and #2 NAU by over 30 points. Bama’ beat the Lumberjacks by one point, although NAU standout David McNeil suffered from a side stitch and finished poorly. Had McNeil even place in the top-10, the Lumberjacks would have taken the team title. #9 William and Mary proved their meddle as they placed 14 points behind Alabama, solidifying their top-10 ranking.
Individuals: Oregon Soph-star Luke Puskedra rallied from a terrible showing at his home opener, taking first in a respectable 23:40, five seconds clear of second place finisher Andy Baker of Butler. Although David McNeil of NAU was unable to stay with the lead pack, the Lumberjacks had two top -4 finishers in Junior College transfer Jordan Chipangama and Diego Estrada. W&M’s Jon Grey proved that the Tribe has a top-15 talent as he rounded out the top-5. What we can take from this race is that Puskedra is poised to repeat his high finish from 2008 and NAU may have 3 guys that can run in the top-15, which is scary for all the other teams.
Men’s White Race
Teams: #1 Stanford proved their ranking, simply obliterating the field by over 80 points. Well back of Stanford, #4 Colorado, #5 BYU, #8 Portland and #12 Iona all fell in to line with their poll ranking. Portland didn’t look quite as good as they did at the Dellinger Invite, and may loose some spots in the polls on the heels of strong performances from the likes of William and Mary.
Individuals: Stanford’s Chris Derrick may have been the not-s0-surprising, surprise of the day, taking the win in the fastest time of the day and in the process beating national title favorite Sam Chelanga of Liberty. Even though Chelanga had an eight second lead on the pack through 5k,Derrick finished 23:27 ahead of Chelanga’s 23:34. The Cardinal got a third place out of Elliot Heath, who ran the third fastest time of the day with his 23:39 performance. Ten men broke 24:00 in the race as compared to six in the blue race. I think Chelanga is still the favorite come November but if he can’t hold it together Derrick orsomeone the likes of German Fernandez or David McNeil could be the next national champion.
Women’s Blue Race
Teams: The #19 Colorado women proved they were not a one horse show, taking down the likes of #4 Oregon, #6 Stanford, #7 Iowa State, and #11 Florida State. The Seminoles finished an equally surprising second and defending national runner-up Oregon finished a somewhat disappointing third. The Ducks did however find themselves with a poor finish from a top runner, just as NAU did in the men’s race. Alex Kosinski finished far back in 77th place, but should finish in the top-10 in November, so don’t count the Ducks out just yet.
Individuals: Colorado’s Jenny Barringer, as expected, destroyed the field and proved she is the class of the NCAA. Florida State’s Susan Kuijken ran well to place second, but finished a full 30 seconds behind Barringer, 19:40 to 20:10. The biggest surprise of the race was super-Freshman Jordan Hasay placing third overall in her second collegiate race. The prep standout ran well to finish a mere 13 seconds behind Kuijken and even out-kicked strong Africans from UTEP and Western Kentucky. This top three may well be the top three come the national championship race in November, which would be an amazing feat for the young Hasay.
Women’s White Race
Teams: The #1 ranked Washington women proved they are easily the top team on the collegiate scene as they outdistanced runner-up #9 Florida by thirty points. The Huskies did this with a partial squad that didn’t include top-10 talent Mel Laurence and all-Pac 10 runner Lauren Saylor. Florida took down #5 Princeton and #8 Minnesota proving they may be a top-10 team come November. The biggest surprise was Minnesota who finished sixth despite a third place effort from Megan Duwell. Expect the Golden Gophers to drop in the polls.
Individuals: Illinois Angela Bizzarri took the title over Washinton’s Kendra Schaff, 20:27 to 20:29. Bizzarri did this despite being down 17 seconds to Schaff through 3k. Bizzarri should be considered a threat for top-5 at the national championship and could very well find herself on the podium next to Barringer. Washington’s Katie Follett and Christine Babacock ran strong to take fourth and fifth, giving the Huskies three women in the top-5. Princeton’s Liz Costello finished in sixth place and will need to hold that type of placement if her Tigers want to finish well at the national championship.
For more on the races check out the meet webstite here.