Nov. 21, 2011
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Running on a cold, damp day, Stanford earned a pair of top-10 team finishes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. The No. 5 men's team placed fifth with 207 points, while the No. 13 women were 10th with 332 points. The Stanford men were led by senior Chris Derrick who matched a Stanford best by placing second as an individual. Kathy Kroeger and Stephanie Marcy earned All-America honors to lead the women.
Derrick matched Ryan Hall in 2003 and Neftalem Araia in 2006 with runner-up national finishes. No Stanford runner has ever won an individual title, despite the nine team titles the Cardinal men and women have claimed.
The Cardinal just missed a podium finish as BYU was fourth with 203 points, just four ahead of Stanford. Wisconsin to the NCAA title with 97 points, while Oklahoma State and Colorado rounded out the top three. The Cardinal earned its fourth-straight top-10 finish under head coach Jason Dunn and its third top-five finish in four years.
"I thought we ran pretty well," said Dunn. "I can't remember a race that so closely followed the rankings. I think that just shows how good all the top teams were this season. It hurts to miss the podium by such a small margin, but all of the team ahead of us ran really well."
Derrick earns his fourth All-America honor in cross country and his 11th overall at Stanford. He was not alone, however, as Jacob Riley also captured All-America honors. Riley finished 18th and earns his second straight All-America honor in cross country and the seventh overall of his career.
"I am really proud of Chirs," said Dunn. "He ran a great race and finished up an amazing career in cross country. He is one of just six to finish in the top-10 all four years, which is an incredible accomplishment."
Both Derrick and Riley went out with the lead pack, but the race was blown open at 4 kilometers when Lawi Lelang of Arizona surged to the lead and strung out the chase pack. Derrick stayed patient and slowly worked his way back to the lead as the runners that tried to stay with Lelang fell off the pace. Lelang cruised to a dominating performance, finishing in 28:44.1. Derrick worked his way through the chase pack and finished strong as he took second in relatively comfortable fashion. The senior covered the 10,000 meters in 28:57.5, completing one of the great cross country careers in NCAA history.
Riley also ran with the group chasing Lelang, but could not quite hold the blistering tempo over the final 3k. The senior finished with a time of 29:44.1 to take 18th after placing sixth at the meet a year ago.
The surprise of the day was sophomore Andrew Berberick who placed 55th. Berberick did not run the regional meet and was a late addition to the national squad. The choice by Dunn proved to be excellent as Berberick ran the best race of his young career to finish as Stanford's No. 3 runner. He crossed the line at 30:25.1 and was the 10th best underclassmen in the race.
Also running well was senior Brendan Gregg who closed his career with a 65th-place national finish. The result was the best of Gregg's career as he has returned from injury this season in fine form. Gregg covered the 10,000 meters in 30:30.7.
Rounding out the top five was Erik Olson who was 127th in 31:00.6. Olson improved on his time and place from his freshman season as he was the Cardinal No. 5 runner at the NCAA meet for the second-straight year.
Also competing were J.T. Sullivan and Joe Rosa. Sullivan finished his Stanford career with a 144th-place finish as he covered the course in 31:09.5. Rosa who was coming off a sensantional regional meet, struggled in his first NCAA meet, finishing 154th with a time of 31:13.6.
The Cardinal women earned its first top-10 finish since 2008 as its 332 points were 10 back of New Mexico who was ninth. Georgetown won the team title with 162 points, but the top four teams were separated by just 27 points. Washington was eight points back in second, while Villanova and Florida State were also within striking distance. Oregon placed fifth and Colorado was 11th to give the Pac-12 four of the top 11 schools.
"I was really happy with our team overall," said women's coach PattiSue Plumer. "We showed a slight improvement into the top 10. It is really hard to come to the national meet with four runners who haven't been here before, but overall they did great. We will continue to improve, myself included, and come back even stronger next year."
Sheila Reid of Villanova repeated as the individual champion, edging Jordan Hasay of Oregon at the line.
Kroeger completed a sensational season with her 21st-place finish. Finally, able to stay healthy for a full cross-country season, the junior showed her No. 1 runner talent. Kroeger covered the 6,000 meters in 20:09.8 to earn her first All-America honor in cross country and third overall of her career.
Also earning All-America honors was Stephanie Marcy. The Stanford women had not had an All-American in cross country since 2007 when Arianna Lambie, Lauren Centrowitz and Katie Harrington each earned the honor on the way to a national title.
Marcy placed 32nd in her final race in a Stanford jersey. A four-time All-American on the track, Marcy earned the first All-America honor in cross country of her career. She crossed the line with a time of 20:22.6.
"I was so happy for Steph," said Plumer. "I was really glad to see her get her first All-America honor in cross country. She ran a great race."
Running well in her first NCAA meet was freshman Aisling Cuffe. Cuffe placed 74th and was the third freshman overall. She covered the 6,000 meters with a time of 20:49.6.
Rounding out the top five were sophomore Jessica Tonn and junior newcomer Claire Durkin. Tonn placed 111th as the Cardinal No. 4 runner, while Durkin was 192nd. Tonn finished with a time of 21:07.8 in her second NCAA meet, while Durkin ran 21:47.8 in her debut.
Completing the top seven were a pair of freshmen, Alli Billmeyer and Mary Kate Anselmini. Billmeyer was 236th in 22:23.1, while Anselmini was 249th in 22:57.7 as the young Cardinal gained experience for future seasons.
This concludes the cross country season. Runners will take a little down time, before ramping up for the indoor season that begins after the new year. Only J.T. Sullivan and Stephanie Marcy have exhausted their eligibility for the indoor season. The men will also welcome back Elliott Heath for the indoor season as the senior did not have cross country left, but does have indoors. He won the NCAA title at 3,000 meters last year and along with Derrick and others should give Stanford a formidable indoor squad this season.