Edward Cheserek wins at the 2015 NCAA Cross Country Championships (© Kirby Lee)
Kenya’s Edward Cheserek created history on Saturday (21) as he became the first man to win the prestigious NCAA Cross Country Championships for three successive years.
On a cloudy day in Louisville’s Tom Sawyer Park, the University of Oregon student surged away from Australia’s Patrick Tiernan on an undulating portion of the course with two kilometres remaining to win his third US collegiate cross-country title.
Over a course measured at 10 kilometres, Cheserek stopped the clock at 28:46 with Tiernan, a student at the University of Villanova where the men’s cross-country team is led by Irish middle distance-running great Marcus O’Sullivan, second in 29:12.
Tiernan lost a lot of ground on Cheserek in the closing stages but he wasn’t in any serious danger of losing the runner-up spot.
Pierce Murphy finished third in 29:37 while Canada's Justyn Knight, a lowly 143rd 12 months ago, finished fourth and led Syracuse – who had three finishers inside the top-10 – to the team title by nine points ahead of two-time reigning champions Colorado.
While distance-running legends Steve Prefontaine, Henry Rono and Gerry Lindgren can match Cheserek’s title haul, none of them were able to win their titles in consecutive years.
Also notably, Cheserek’s winning margin of 26 seconds is the fifth biggest in event history.
In the women’s race, Molly Seidel added the cross-country title to the NCAA 10,000m title which she won on the track this summer.
The Notre Dame student won a competitive race over six kilometres in 19:29, winning by five seconds ahead of Allie Ostrander, a first-year student at Boise State University.
While the men’s team race was very much in the balance until the late stages, the University of New Mexico took a dominant win in the women’s team race with their four scoring runners all placing inside the top 20.
Bett fulfils junior promise in Eldoret
With the Kenyan cross-country season back in full swing, a handful of familiar names lined up for the Tuskys Wareng Cross Country in Eldoret on Sunday (22).
In the men’s senior 10km, Josphat Bett claimed the victory seven years after winning the junior race in Eldoret for the second time. Now 25, Bett won in 30:29 in a sprint finish ahead of Peter Limo in 30:31.
A smaller field lined up for the women’s senior 8km which was dominated by the in-form Alice Aprot, the younger sister of 2010 world cross-country champion Joseph Ebuya. Aprot took charge of proceedings from the gun and crossed the finish line in 26:36, some 42 seconds ahead of Pascalia Chepkorir (27:18) with Nancy Chepkwemoi third (27:36).
Leading marathon runner Jemima Sumgong placed fifth in 27:54 while 2008 Olympic 800m champion Pamela Jelimo – out of form and never in contention – dropped out after the second lap on her return to competition.
Still a junior until 2017, Sandra Chebet won the girls’ 6km in 20:38 by 37 seconds ahead of Emmy Chebet (no relation) with world junior steeplechase champion Ruth Jebet from Bahrain fourth. In the boys’ 8km, Peter Kipserem prevailed in 24:28 ahead of Anthony Kiptoo in 24:39.
Toroitich and Masai win again in Soria
Uganda’s Timothy Toroitich became the first man to retain his title at the 22nd edition of the Cross Internacional de Soria in northern Spain on Sunday.
One week after finishing second to Imane Merga in Atapuerca, Toroitich stopped the clock at 29:42 to defeat Eritrea’s Goitom Kifle by six seconds while two-time European cross country champion Alemayehu Bezabeh comprised the podium on home soil in third in 29:53.
While Toroitich has claimed his two titles in Soria in back-to-back seasons, Kenya’s Linet Masai won her second title after a hiatus of six years.
Masai won the 8km in 28:08 by a convincing margin over a largely domestic field. Spanish veterans Diana Martin and Iris Fuentes-Pila finished second and third respectively in 28:26 and 28:30.
At the 37th Cross Espada Toledana in Toledo on Sunday, Spanish internationals Roberto Alaiz and Alessandra Aguilar shared the spoils in the senior races staged over 9km and 7.4km respectively.
Hassan coasts in Tilburg
Racing for the first time since the track season, European 1500m champion Sifan Hassan coasted to her third win in succession on home soil at the 57th Warandeloop in Tilburg on Sunday.
Breaking away from her rivals in the early stages, Hassan set the fastest time in race history of 27:07. She led a Dutch double with Maureen Koster the runner-up in 27:37 with Belgium’s Louise Carton third in 27:43.
In the men’s race, world 5000m finalist Richard Ringer from Germany won in 30:07 by 10 seconds ahead of reigning champion Khalid Choukoud from the Netherlands.
Ethiopian juniors surprisingly had the beating of 2013 world cross-country silver medallist Hiwot Ayalew at the 51st Cross le Maine Libre in Allonnes in France on Sunday.
Repeating the order from the junior race at the World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, silver and bronze medallists Dera Dida and Etagegne Woldu were first and second respectively in 20:41 and 20:44 with Ayalew third in 20:47.
In the men’s 9.39km, Ethiopian-born Bahraini Aweke Ayalew won in 27:46.
At the 42nd Cross Sud Ouest in Gujan Mestras on Sunday, 18-year-old Haymanot Alewe won the 9.825km in 27:49, 11 seconds ahead of 2011 European under-23 cross-country champion Florian Carvalho while Meskelem Amare made it an Ethiopian double in the women’s 6.395km race in 20:21.
At the Cross Volvic Elite on Saturday, Ethiopian juniors also won the senior races courtesy of Ashenafi Weldegiorgis (23:55) and Sintayehu Lewetegn (17:07) which were held over 7.39km and 4.86km respectively.
At the Balkan Cross Country Championships in Vrbovec, Croatia on Sunday, Turkey won eight of the 12 titles on offer although Romanian steeplechaser Ancuta Bobocel won the senior women’s race and led Romania to the team title.
Steven Mills (with help from Kip Evans) for the IAAF