Nov. 19, 2007
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Senior Laura Mickelson finished 61st with a time of 21:15.8 at the 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Cross Country National Championship on Monday in Terre Haute, Ind. Mickelson earned the invitation to the event following her 15th place finish (good for an All-Region selection) at the NCAA West Regional earlier this season in Eugene, Ore. The event, which was televised nationally on CSTV for the first time in history, lived up to its billing as both the men's and women's races were extremely competitive and gave the thousands of fans in attendance an exciting show.
The men's 10k race was first on the schedule and it started the day off in climatic fashion. The lead packed stayed close through the 5k split before Josh McDougal of Liberty and Galen Rupp of Oregon broke away from the group. The two then battled for the lead throughout the rest of the race and were neck-and-neck coming down the final straightaway to the finish line. It was McDougal, though, who had enough in his tank at the end and made a final push to win the race with a time of 29:22.4 to become the NCAA champion. Rupp trailed by just a second in second place with a time of 29:23.4 while Northern Arizona's Lopez Lomong came in third at 29:45.5. Villanova's Bobby Curtis (29:46.3) and Colorado's Brent Vaughn (29:47.4) rounded out the top-five individuals in fourth and fifth places, respectively. Junior David Kinsella finished first for Portland, the WCC team champion, and eighth overall to lead the Pilots to a 14th place team finish.
When team scoring was adjusted, it was Oregon who came out on top thanks to Rupp's strong finish. The Ducks finished with 85 team points, just 28 points ahead of second place Iona with 113 points. Oklahoma State, led by junior Ryan Vail's eighth place finish, placed third with 180 points just 10 points ahead of the fourth-place Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. Wisconsin rounded out the top five teams with a team score of 239 points.
Following the exciting men's finish, Mickelson and the women took to the course for the 6k championship race. Just 364 days removed from her last NCAA individual title in cross country, Texas Tech's Sally Kipyego dominated the race and took home her second-straight NCAA title with a time of 19:30.9, a new course record. She became the first back-to-back winner since North Carolina's Shalane Flanagan won consecutive titles in 2002 and 2003. She was followed in second place by Colorado's Jenny Barringer at 19:47.8 and in third place by Susan Kuijken of Florida State at 19:57.3. Iowa's Diane Nakuri (20:07.0) and Michigan State's Nicole Bush (20:13.4) rounded out the top five in fourth and fifth place. The only other WCC runner on the women's side, Dana Morgan of Portland, finished 46th in the race with a time of 21:09.1.
On the team side, it was the Stanford who took home the team title for the third-consecutive year and four the fourth time in the last five years. The Cardinal finished with 145 team points ahead of second-place Oregon with 177 points. Florida State ran to a third-place finish, thanks to the strong outing from Kuijken, with 236 points, just 15 points ahead of Arizona State in fourth place. Michigan State rounded out the top five with a team score of 321.
Mickelson's national run marked the second consecutive year in which she represented LMU in Terre Haute. Last year, she recovered from an early fall to finish the 6k in 21:38 for 50th place. In addition, Mickelson's time placed her fifth among runners from the West Region. She remains the only Lion in LMU history to run at the NCAA Cross Country Championship.
Thirty-one teams were selected to participate in each championship. The top two, seven-person teams automatically qualified from each of the nine regions, for a total of 18 teams. Thirteen additional teams were selected at-large.
Thirty-eight individuals, the first four athletes from each region who were not a part of a qualifying team and two additional qualifiers, were selected to participate in each championship. All individual qualifiers must have finished in the top 25 in their region.
At the NCAA West Regional, Mickelson led the LMU women to a 15th place finish. The men, running a 10k, finished a program-best 16th in the standings, collecting a team score of 507 to finish just nine points behind the 15th place team, Sacramento State.
During the regular season this year, Mickelson won three individual titles at the Malibu Oceanside Open, Asics/UC Irvine Invitational and Santa Clara Bronco Invitational.
For fans who didn't get a chance to see the championship race live, it will be replayed at 11 p.m. ET on CSTV.