Cheserek of Oregon earns NCAA title, Colorado men win team title
On a cold, muddy day in Terre Haute, Indiana, Edward Cheserek became the first Oregon freshman in school history to take home the NCAA individual title while Colorado captured the team title.
After a second place mountain region finish last week, Colorado came back strong to earn its fourth NCAA team title in school history.
[Related: Pac-12 Conference press release]
The Buffs scored a dominant 149 points over second-place Northern Arizona's 169 points. The Buffs were led by freshman Ben Saarel who came in with an eighth place individual finish in 30:14, earning his first All-American honor. The pack followed with Morgan Pearson finishing in 17th, Black Theroux (23rd), Pierce Murphy (39th), and Ammar Moussa (95th) to bring home the team title with a great final effort in the last 2k.
The individual race provided great drama. In a battle with defending national champion Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech, Cheserek tucked in behind the senior and remained patient until 8k to go, where the Duck surged ahead to put a huge gap on Kithuka.
With fans cheering from every side of Lavern Gibson Cross Country Course, Cheserek remained strong to the finish, clocking in with a time of 29:41. He is the first Oregon Duck to win an individual NCAA title since Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp in 2008. The freshman led the Oregon men to a fifth place team finish.
The Oregon men followed to represent the conference with a fifth place overall team finish. Following the season pattern, Parker Stinson, the other half of the Ducks 1-2 duo, finished in 54th place. The remaining Ducks followed in a close pack with Tanguy Pepiot (58), Mac Fleet (77), and Jake Leingang (149) earning the team score of 274 points.
All three Pac-12 teams finished in the top 20. The Stanford Cardinal brought home a 19th place team finish led by junior Jim Rosa who crossed the line fifth overall in 30:08. Rosa was followed by Erik Olson (85), Michael Atchoo (100), Sean McGorty (161), and Tyler Stutzman (162).
In his first NCAA championship appearance, Aaron Nelson of Washington earned his first All American honor as a junior for the Huskies, placing 20th with a time of 30:27.