Harriers Race to NCAA Success
Nov. 25, 2002
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Facing the nation's fastest distance runners, the University of Oregon men's and women's cross country teams came away with their best team and individual outings of the season. The No. 6-ranked Duck men featured four All-Americans for the first time since 1989 and finished fifth with 210 points in the 31-team men's race, and individual women's qualifier and Duck redshirt senior Carrie Zografos capped her collegiate harrier career with All-America honors for her 33rd-place finish.
In the Duck women's 27th of 28 appearances in the national finale as either a team or individually, redshirt senior Carrie Zografos put together a fitting farewell for retiring cross country coach Tom Heinonen. The Portland native and Central Catholic High School graduate bided her time in the back early near 65th place at the 3K midway point, before moving up to 55th up the long uphill on the backside of the course, and was up to 37th early in the sixth and final kilometer. In the final 400-meter stretch to the finish she caught two runners and was passed by another.
'During the race I was a little nervous early because I didn't have any teammates to work off, so it was a little odd,' Zografos said. 'I tried to run the first half smartly and strongly. Once I got past the midway point, we had a nice downhill, and I used that to shorten my stride and get myself going before we hit the back hill. From there I heard someone say I was in the 55th place, so I figured I might as well keep moving up since a place in the high 30's would be All-American. I started to run out of gas a little at the end of the fifth kilometer, but Amy Mortimer (sixth in '00, from Kansas State) went by me pretty hard, so I figured she'd be someone to key off, and I tried to latch onto her. From there I gave it my all through the finish even though the line seemed so far away (the final stretch was a 400-meter straightway to the line).'
The race featured a shoelace, timing chip system used for only the second time in the collegiate finale as Zografos was clocked for a 10:18 first half, and a negative-split 10:13 second half.
Zografos had admitted previously that her effort on the same course six weeks before in the Pre-Nationals race - although more than a minute slower (53rd, 21:35) - gave her confidence. Her perseverance through a sluggish day physically was followed by breakthrough placing in the Pac-10 (eighth) and Western Regional (sixth) Championships this past month.
On Monday she ranked fifth among conference entries leaving only four runners in the conference she hadn't beaten this season - even more impressive after finishing 35th and 44th in the 2001 and 2000 conference finales, and 97th and 93rd in the same respective regional championships.
Zografos' NCAA effort was her second career-wise, with her first in much more inhospitable conditions as she finished 220th overall and sixth for the Ducks in the 2000 edition in Ames, Iowa, which featured a -18 degree wind chill, gusty winds, and flurries at the race's end. Although Monday's conditions still weren't balmy by any means, it had little effect on her placing as she became the highest Duck finisher since Marie Davis finished ninth in 1997 and 1998, and Oregon's first All-American since then.
'What more can you ask for - your last runner to be an All-American and have her best race ever,' Oregon women's coach Tom Heinonen said. 'She ground it out and showed great patience, confidence and composure against the toughest and most talented field of the season. It's not easy to come here and compete your best as an individual.'
'Coming in, we didn't talk much about strategy. We knew that with her strength she has the ability to move up well in the middle stages, and she's also shown in her recent races a great ability to go out harder. She's had an incredible end to the season, and today she ran the way she runs best. Going out hard but relaxed, and moving up from there.'
Opening her collegiate career at the University of Colorado as a freshman in 1998-99, she joined the Buffalo cross country team in the fall of 1999 and ended the fall as the squad's eighth runner. Prior to that, the former sprinter had competed in the 400 hurdles as a true freshman for the Buffs, and was a former Oregon 4A state placer in the 400, 300 hurdles, and 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
'To go from being a walk-on to an All-American is such an exciting feeling, especially for someone who just started running cross country barely three years ago,' Zografos said, 'and to do it in Tom's last year means that much more. It's a special way to end it, for both me and him, and something neither of us will forget.'
In his final cross country race as women's head coach, Heinonen added his 31 All-America plaque to his mantle. Team-wise, in Oregon's 24 national appearances, the Ducks claimed NCAA team titles in 1984 and 1988, and three more runner-up honors, to go along with 18 top-10 placings.
Overall in the women's team race, No. 1-ranked BYU flexed their depth up front with four runners in the top 50 to win with 85 points. No. 2 Stanford started out strong with three runners in the top 11 overall, but had to score two others at 57th and 79th overall and finished second with 113 points. No. 5 Notre Dame followed in third (170), ahead of No. 7 Georgetown (fourth, 214) and No. 3 Colorado (fifth, 220). North Carolina junior Shalane Flanagan won the individual title on a mid-race break (19:36), besting Yale's Kate O'Neill (19:46) and Stanford's Alicia Craig (third, 19:48) and Lauren Fleshman (fourth, 19:49), and BYU's Michael Manova (fifth, 19:50).
On the men's side, the Duck front-runners all ranked among the top 43 overall and top 30 American finishers to up head coach Martin Smith's Duck All-America harrier tally to 11 in his five years in Eugene - (the first being Steve Fein whom he guided as an assistant coach in 1998 under legendary Duck mentor Bill Dellinger). Monday's quartet also stands as the fifth in Smith's career after four instances with the University of Wisconsin (1983, 1985, 1987 and 1992).
'We raced well all season,' Oregon men's cross country head coach Martin Smith said, 'then today in the most difficult meet of the year, the team handled the pressure very maturely. They were focused, and executed the strategy extremely well. They got good position early, and ran aggressively, but also in a controlled manner, with an awareness of what was happening around them. They ran tough and stayed with the things that got them here. Jason and Ryan continued to be front-runners, and Brett and Eric ran extremely well and executed smartly and smoothly. I also have to give John (Lucas) credit that he hung in there in the end and didn't throw in the towel.'
Senior Jason Hartmann became the eighth Duck men's harrier to notch three or more All-America honors, and scored a best-ever 20th placing in the 10K chase (30:18). With 5K and 8K splits of 15:01 and 24:14, the Rockford, Mich., native nearly all the entire race between 15th and 25th places with many of his family and friends cheering him on.
'This is such a great feeling, to be a part of a team that has worked so hard and pushed each other towards this accomplishment,' Hartmann said. 'We entered the year with the goal to be in the single digits - realistically ninth -, but we've improved in every meet and have been there for each other every step of the way. Coming in today, I had a feeling that we would do well as a team, and again during the race, based on how we raced all season.'
Hartmann's finish came after a 50th-place finish last year, 35th as a sophomore in 2000 as an individual qualifier, and 37th as the top American frosh in 1999. The two-time team MVP has led the Ducks in 12 of his 14 races the last three seasons and was a top-three finisher in the Western Regional on three occasions - including runner-up twice - and was also twice top-three in the Pac-10 Championships.
'This was a nice way to finish it off,' Hartmann said. 'It took me a few races to get going this season, but I got my legs under me eventually, and it worked out well. I wanted to leave the course today knowing I gave it my all for the team, just as everyone else did.'
Arguably the team's most improved harrier, redshirt sophomore Ryan Andrus claimed his first All-America honor with a 34th-place finish (30:30). The team's top runner once this season in the Roy Griak Invite (eighth), and top six in the Pac-10 (fifth) and Western Regional (sixth) finales in recent weeks.
'This season has been building into a crescendo, so to finish it like this is pretty emotional,' Andrus said. 'It's been an intense year and we've been so dedicated that it's been special. We also wanted to make this race a good one for Jason. He's worked so hard and been such a great leader - setting such a great example.'
Andrus ran an intelligent race, keeping contact in a pack from 25th-30th places early, before shifting back some in the middle 1/3 of the race. At the end, he moved up progressively and finished with a strong surge.
'I let Jason go in the second kilometer since my plan was to be a little more conservative,' Andrus said. 'I tried to work off the Stanford sixth and seventh guys early since I wanted to approach this race intelligently. A place in the 30th-40th range was a reasonable, rational goal. Towards the end, Coach was yelling that we had a chance for a place on the medal stand (the fop four teams are honored), so I did all I could to catch people at the end. I had a little left, so it's a little frustrating, but I can't be disappointed. The team finished fifth, and I'm an All-American.'
In his wake, junior Brett Holts and redshirt sophomore Eric Logsdon posted breakthrough efforts on the national scene, running the entire race in the top 60 overall, and were in the top 50 by the midway point. At race's end, the Bend and Canby natives finished 41st (30:37) and 43rd (30:38), respectively, for their first All-America accolades.
The duo foreshadowed their NCAA success with seventh and 12th-place regional finishes nine days before, and were also 12th and 21st at the conference finale the first weekend of November. The duo also improved considerably on their NCAA debuts from last season of 96th and 156th, respectively.
Redshirt junior and Eagle Point, Ore., native John Lucas also improved in his NCAA return, finishing 112th this season (31:13) after placing 117th last season.
The Ducks' fifth-place NCAA finish capped a year in which the Men of Oregon finished second in the Pac-10 and Western Regional for the first time since 1998 - to No. 1 Stanford in both instances - and also won their other regular season contest, the Roy Griak Invite which featured 12 teams in Monday's NCAA field.
'We had a very good year and the group worked extremely hard,' Smith said. 'They've been very coachable, and they have patiently built themselves into a nationally competitive team.They know that they're not the highest profile or most talented team, and that their abilities lie they way they trust and rely on each other - it's a a special team chemistry and 'oneness'.'
'I also have to applaud the staff at Indiana State for the great job today,' Smith said. 'It was a good, fair course, and that's partly reflected in that the best runners ran well, and the outcome wasn't shaped by the layout or difficulty - although it wasn't easy.'
In contrast to the snowy, colder forecasts earlier in the weekend, Monday's conditions proved much more hospitable. Although temperatures stayed in the low to mid 30s during the day, sunny, clear skies and a light breeze proved satisfactory to fans and runners alike. 'The weather was great,' said Andrus, a native of Orem, Utah. 'To be honest, I was kind of hoping to see some snow or flurries because I like that kind of weather, and usually run well.'
Overall in the men's race, No. Stanford cruised to an easy victory with 47 points, and featured six All-Americans in the top 40 overall. No. 3 Wisconsin followed with 107 points, ahead of No. 7 Eastern Michigan (third, 165), No. 5 Colorado (fourth, 190), No. 6 Oregon (fifth, 210), No. 2 Arkansas (sixth, 214) and No. 4 Northern Arizona (seventh, 247). Individually, Colorado senior Jorge Torres and Arkansas junior Alistair Cragg battled head-to head the final kilometers, and stayed together until the final 200 meters when Torres gradually built up a 10-meter advantage at the line to win in 29:05. Cragg (20:06) was trailed by Stanford's Grant Robison (third, 29:37), Louis Luchini (fifth, 29:41) and Donald Sage (sixth, 29:45) and Butler's Mark Tucker (fourth, 29:38).
All-America awards were awarded by the U.S. Coaches Association to the top 30 finishers regardless of citizenship, and any additional finishers that were among the top 30 American finishers. Monday's men's race featured 15 foreign citizens in the top 45 so the men's award was extended to Americans that finished 45th or higher, while nationalities were not available for the top female finishers.
NCAA Cross Country Championships
LaVern Gibson Championship Course
Indiana State University
Terre Haute, Ind.
Mon., Nov. 25, 2002
Women's Teams - 1, BYU, 85 points. 2, Stanford, 113. 3, Notre Dame, 170. 4, Georgetown, 214. 5, Colorado, 220. 6, Providence, 235. 7, Arkansas, 251. 8, Villanova, 256. 9, Wake Forest, 328. 10, Northern Arizona, 333. 11, Columbia, 341. 12, Michigan State, 365. 13, N.C. State, 404. 14, Indiana, 423. 15, Michigan, 430. 16, Missouri, 437. 17, Duke, 475. 18, Marquette, 485. 19, Wisconsin, 488. 20, Virginia, 510. 21, North Carolina, 517. 22, Texas, 529. 23, William & Mary, 549. 23, William & Mary, 549. 23, Arizona State, 549. 25, UCLA, 568. 26, Penn State, 568. 27, Ball State, 612. 28, Florida State, 657. 28, Tennessee, 657. 30, Northwestern, 661. 31, Washington, 699.
Women's Indviduals (6K) - 1, Shalane Flanagan, North Carolina, 19:36. 2, Kate O'Neill, Yale, 19:46. 3, Alicia Craig, Stanford, 19:48. 4, Lauren Fleshman, Stanford, 19:49. 5, Michaela Manova, BYU, 19:50. 6,Molly Huddle, Notre Dame, 19:56. 7, Kassie Anderson, BYU, 19:57.8, Ida Nilsson, Northern Arizona, 20:02.9, Megan Metcalfe, West Virgniia, 20:01. 10, Sara Gorton, Colorado, 20:02. 11, Malindi Elmore, Stanford, 20:02. 12, Johanna Nilsson, Northern Arizona, 20:02. 13, Laura O'Neill, Yale, 20:06. 14, Karin Van Rooyen, SMU, 20:07. 15, Vicky Gill, Florida State, 20:08. 16, Cristin Wurth, Arkansas, 20:08. 17, Lena Nilsson, UCLA, 20:10. 18, Maria Cicero, Boston, 10:14. 19, Lauren King, Notre Dame, 20:15. 20, Katie Martin, BYU, 20:15. 21, Molly Austin, 20:16.22, Natalie Florence, Colorado, 20:17. 23, Jennifer Payne, Stony Brook, 20:18. 24, Brianna Shook, Toledo, 20:19. 25, Annie Bersagel, Wake Forest, 20:24.
Oregon Women's Individual - 33, Carrie Zografos, 20:32.
Men's Teams - 1, Stanford, 47 points. 2, Wisconsin, 107. 3, Eastern Michigan, 165. 4, Colorado, 190. 5, Oregon, 210. 6, Arkansas, 214. 7, Northern Arizona, 247. 8, Michigan, 309. 9, Central Michigan, 337. 10, Iona, 376. 11, Montana State, 392. 12, Villanova, 398. 13, Providence, 406. 14, William & Mary, 407. 15, Weber State, 436. 16, BYU, 443. 17, Minnesota, 449. 18, Georgetown, 458. 19, Butler, 496. 20, Ohio State, 499. 21, SMU, 526. 22, Notre Dame, 527. 23, N.C. State, 552. 23, Texas, 552. 25, Indiana, 565. 26, Texas A&M, 569. 27, Colorado State, 592. 28, Alabama, 598. 29, Iowa, 617. 30, Michigan State, 646. 31, Tennessee, 647.
Men's Individuals - 1, Jorge Torres, Colorado, 29 minutes, 5 seconds. 2, Alistair Cragg, Arkansas, 29:06. 3, Grant Robison, Stanford, 29:37. 4, Mark Tucker, Butler, 29:38. 5, Louis Luchini, Stanford, 29:41. 6, Donald Sage, Stanford, 29:45. 7, Boaz Cheboiywo, Eastern Michigan, 29:47. 8, Tom McARdle, Dartmouth, 29:47. 9, Ian Dobson, Stanford, 29:48. 9, Ian Dobson, Stanford, 29:48. 10, Ed Torres, Colorado, 29:48. 11, David Kimani, Alabama, 29:48. 12, Matt Tegenkamp, Wisconsin, 29:50. 13, Gavin Thompson, Eastern Michigan, 29:52. 14, Daniel Lincoln, Arkansas, 30:00. 15, Richard Kiplangat, Iona, 30:01. 16, Antony Ford, Montana, 30:01. 17, Mindaugas Pukstas, SMU, 30:16. 18, Seth Watkins, Northern Arizona, 30:17. 19, Lyle Weese, Montana State, 30:17. 20, Jason Hartmann, Oregon, 30:18. 21, Isaiah Festa, Wisconsin, 30:19. 22, Nate Brannen, Michigan, 30:21. 23, Bobby Lockhart, Wisconsin, 30:21. 24, Adam Wallace, Wisconsin, 30:22. 25, Westly Keating, Texas-Pan American, 30:22.
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