Tank Finishes Strong at NCAA XC Championships
STILLWATER, Okla. – Utah cross country senior Poppy Tank ran of one of her best races at the NCAA Cross Country Championships Monday afternoon at the Oklahoma State Cross Country Course, crossing the finish line at 20:45.9 for 27th – making her the eighth All-American in program history.
"Confidence, toughness and guts," head coach Kyler Kepler said on how he felt about Tank's performance. "That race took them all and Poppy was terrific. That is certainly one of the most challenging courses in America. To go to the front pack from the gun and run with the best runners is all you need to know. She ran to win and was in position for two thirds of the race. She then battled and stayed mentally and physically tough over the last two kilometers to secure her first All-American honor. I can't ask more of her and am just really, really proud of her."
The 20:45.9 mark was the fourth-fastest time for any individual runner competing at the national meet for Utah since the NCAA extended the course length to 6k in 2000. Among the 38 individual racers, Tank was the fifth one to cross the finish line.
The Plymouth, England, native ran a tremendous race, keeping pace with the lead pack heading into the 4k mark of the race and during that time was up and down the top-10. In addition, Tank was the sixth-fastest finisher among competitors from the Pac-12.
"The race went out hard from the gun and I knew I wanted to be close to the front to avoid getting trapped back in the masses," Tank said post meet. "I felt great halfway through and then the front really ramped up the pace and I struggled a bit to move with it so I just fought as hard as I could to maintain position and just gave everything I had left over the last 1k. I'm just so delighted to finally be an All-American"
Her 27th-place finish is the third-highest for any individual racer at the NCAA XC Championships for Utah in the 6k, trailing just Grayson Murphy (2017, 8th) and Amanda Mergaert (2012, 14th) – both All-Americans. Tank becomes the third All-American for the Utes since Kepler took over at the helm.