News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

November 22, 2013

Favorites look to win at NCAA cross country championships

Individual runners from Texas Tech, Dartmouth return

TERRE HAUTE — Two consensus thoughts prevailed in the hunt for the NCAA cross country individual championships: Kenyan Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech is the heavy favorite to repeat as men’s 10,000-meter champion and Dartmouth senior Abbey D’Agostino, last year’s runner-up, will be tough to stop from winning the women’s 6,000-meter race.

The opposite opinion was prevalent among the top coaches in the nation regarding the battle for team supremacy. In other words, it’s anybody’s race.

“There’s no one team that’s head and shoulders better than anybody else and that’s the same with the men,” said Colorado coach Mark Wetmore, who guides the fifth-ranked women and third-ranked men.

“It’s going to be a very exciting race that will probably come down to the last kilometer.”

The NCAA championships return to the LaVern Gibson Championship Course today after the NCAAs were held in Louisville a year ago. The two sites are bidding to be future tournament hosts from 2014 onward. Races begin at noon.

Two former IHSAA state champions are NCAA title contenders excited to return to the course and challenge the favorites.

Waverly Neer of Columbia was one of the runners not expecting some of the muddiest conditions at the Gibson course since 2006 to be an issue.

“Some of the best memories I have from cross country are the muddiest conditions and most extreme and so [today] will be another memory to add to my cross country memory bank. It should be a good time,” Neer said.

The No. 1-ranked Northern Arizona men’s team is led by three-time IHSAA boys state champion Futsum Zienasellassie.

“[The conditions] will be tough, but it feels good to have the meet back in Terre Haute. It feels like a championship course. It’s going to be muddy, but that will bring out the toughness in us,” Zienasellassie said.

Indiana State sophomore John Mascari, a graduate of Terre Haute North High School, also spoke about the potential effect of inclement weather on the course.

“It’s going to be tough, obviously,” he said. “But it feels good to have the meet back in Terre Haute. It feels like a championship course. … It’s going to be muddy.”

According to runnersworld.com, other individuals expected to be top contenders in the women’s race include Emma Bates of Boise State, Emily Sisson of Providence, Juliet Bottdorff of Duke, Marielle Hall of Texas, Aisling Cuffle of Stanford, Emily Lipari of Villanova, Shalaya Kipp of Colorado and Shelby Houlihan of Arizona State.

According to the same website, other individuals expected to be top contenders in the men’s race include Anthony Rotich of Texas-El Paso, Kemoy Campbell of Arkansas, Edward Cheserek of Oregon, Tom Farrell of Oklahoma State, Paul Chelimo of North Carolina-Greensboro, Andrew Colley of North Carolina State and Zienasellassie.

 

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