Justyn Knight on his way to winning the NCAA cross-country title (© Kirby Lee)
In his fourth and final appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, Justyn Knight improved on his runner-up finish from 12 months ago to claim victory over 10km in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday (18).
Knight helped Syracuse to the team title on the same course at the EP ‘Tom’ Sawyer State Park two years ago with a 10th-place finish, but this time the 21-year-old secured the individual plaudits with a well-timed finish to defeat New Zealand’s Matt Baxter in 29:01.
In doing so, Knight became the first Canadian winner of the men’s race since Simon Bairu won back-to-back titles for Wisconsin in 2004 and 2005. Although Canada has a rich tradition in the women’s race with the likes of Angela Chalmers, Kathy Butler and Sheila Reid winning for their respective institutions in years gone by, Knight became just the second Canadian to win the men’s title.
Knight and Baxter were only separated on the clock by 0.6 but with three finishers in the top eight, Baxter led Northern Arizona University to the team title for the second year in succession. Their third counter in eighth place was Peter Lomong, the younger brother of Olympian Lopez Lomong.
In the women’s 6km, Kenya’s Ednah Kurgat took a clear cut victory for New Mexico in 19:20 ahead of Amy-Eloise Neale (19:27) and Charlotte Taylor (19:29), leading her institution to the team title as well.
Kiplimo and Aprot dominate in Soria
Timothy Toroitich’s three-year reign as champion at the Cross Internacional de Soria came to an end on Sunday (19) but the title remained in Ugandan hands as world U20 cross-country champion Jacob Kiplimo comfortably won the senior men’s 10km in 28:37.
Kiplimo, who only turned 17 last week and is eligible to defend his U20 title at the 2019 World Cross Country Championships, broke clear from the defending champion on the penultimate two-kilometre lap, opening up a winning margin of 22 seconds. Kenya’s Justus Soget was third in 29:07 with Ayad Lamdassem the leading Spanish finisher in fifth in 29:41.
World cross-country silver medallist Alice Aprot was the only non-domestic runner in the senior women’s race and the Kenyan, who finished fourth in the 10,000m at the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2017 World Championships, took a gun-to-tape victory in the 8km in 26:34.
Aprot finished nearly one minute ahead of second-place finisher Nuria Lugueros (27:22) to become only the second woman in event history after local runner Jacqueline Martin in 1997 to claim back-to-back titles in Soria.
At the Cross de l’Acier in Leffrinckoucke on Sunday (19), world 5000m fifth-place finisher Margaret Chelimo led a Kenyan clean sweep in the senior women’s 6.97km in 23:38 ahead of Eva Cherono (23:43) and 2012 world U20 steeplechase champion Daisy Jepkemei (24:08).
Bahrain’s Birhanu Yemetaw won the senior men’s 10.27km in 30:53 ahead of little-known Kenyans Peter Kiprotich and Peter Ndegwa who were both timed at 30:55. Their more illustrious teammates Japheth Korir and Jairus Birech were fifth in 30:59 and eighth in 32:05 respectively.
Ethiopian youngsters dominated the senior races at the Cross International de Main Libre in Allonnes on Sunday (19). World U20 cross-country silver medallist Hawi Feyse from Ethiopia won the senior women’s 5.39km in 17:24 ahead of world U20 3000m champion Beyenu Degefa (17:28) and world U20 1500m champion Adanech Anbesa (17:36).
World U20 and U18 champion Selemon Barega – who finished fifth in the 5000m at the IAAF World Championships and is still eligible for U20 competitions in 2018 and 2019 – won the senior men’s 9.39km in 26:26 by 10 seconds from Bahrain’s Aweke Ayalew.
Kasait steals the show in Eldoret
Lilian Kasait won a bronze medal at this year’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships in her first season as a senior and the 20-year-old won by a comfortable margin against some solid opposition at the Tuskys Wareng Cross Country in Eldoret on Sunday (19).
Kasait covered the 10km in 33:54 to defeat Valary Aiyabei – who clocked 2:20:53 at the Berlin Marathon in September – by half a minute. Kasait told local media her main aims next year are the African Cross Country Championships in Chlef, Algeria in March and the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in April.
One week after winning in Sotik, Emmanuel Kiprono claimed another domestic victory in the senior men’s 10km in 30:00 by one second from Alfred Barkach.
Turkish athletes dominated proceedings on home soil at the Balkan Cross Country Championships in Canakkale on Saturday (18), winning nine of the 12 titles on offer.
In the men’s senior 10km, Sedat Gunen led a Turkish sweep in 33:41 ahead of Ramazan Ozdemir (33:42) and Alper Demir (34:08). Romania’s Roxana Barca thwarted the Turkish hegemony in the senior women’s 8km, winning in 30:11 ahead of Eytemis Sevilay (30:17) and Ozlem Kaya (30:26).
Steven Mills for the IAAF