Arizona women’s cross country second at NCAAs

TERRA HAUTE, Ind. — The Arizona women’s cross country team, which entered the NCAA championships ranked No. 2 in the country, earned a second-place finish at Saturday’s event, the best in program history.

In finishing as team runners-up despite poor weather conditions and temperatures in the 30s, the Wildcats also had two runners earn All-America honors, as senior Elvin Kibet and junior Nicci Corbin were recognized.

Providence won with 141 points and Arizona took second with 197

points. Butler’s tally of 200 points was good for third place, while Michigan

took fourth with 215 points. Those four teams all received

trophies.

The start line for the event was moved up 100 meters because the initial line was riddled with puddles. Technically, the women ran 5,900 meters rather than 6,000.

“It was really, really difficult conditions for us,” Arizona coach James Li said. “It was cold and muddy on the course. The ladies all came through and fought so hard, worked so hard, and I’m just really proud of them. I’m proud of them for what they did today, which is definitely very special.

“But I am also proud of them for this entire season. They came together and worked really hard and focused for the whole season. They never relented on the goal to of coming to the NCAA championships and doing well.”

Kibet earned All-America honors for the second straight season. She led the Wildcats on Saturday with a 15th-place finish (10 points) and clocked a time of 20:27.7.

Corbin earned All-America honors as well, finishing in 22nd place (13 points) with a time of 20:33.0.

Freshman Maria Larsson just missed out on All-America accolades; only the top 40 finishers are recognized, and Larsson took 42nd place (26 points) with a time of 20:47.5. Sophomore Kayla Beattie finished in 90th place overall (64 points) and clocked a time of 21:15.9. Junior Stephanie Bulder was the final scorer for the Wildcats; she finished in 112th place (84 points) and posted a time of 21:24.3.

Senior Erin Menefee took 163rd place with a time of 21:44.9, and junior Hanna Peterson took 248th place and clocked a time of 23:03.3.

“I’m really proud of the girls,” Kibet said. “The goal coming into the meet was to win it; we didn’t do that, and some of us didn’t have our best races. Kayla (Beattie) fell, for example, but we all ran hard and fought. It was definitely not the best conditions for us. I’m really proud of the girls and the coaches, they did a great job and I’m really happy. I wanted to finish a little bit better but I’m still happy. I wanted to be an All-American and finish in the top 10, but 15th place isn’t too bad. Finishing my final cross country season with 15th place? I’ll take it.”

Freshman Edward Cheserek of Oregon won the men’s individual title, while Colorado won the men’s team title with 149 points. Northern Arizona took second with 169 points, Oklahoma State’s tally of 230 points was good for third place and BYU finished fourth place with 267 points.