Dominant Oklahoma State captures NCAA national Cross Country title

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Oklahoma State captured its third national championship in four years on Saturday at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park.

The Cowboys earned 72 points, beating Wisconsin by 63 points to claim the school’s 51st NCAA team title in all sports.

Girma Mecheso led the Pokes, finishing in fifth place with a time of 29:14.8, his best all season. That time placed him fourth all-time on OSU’s 10,000-meter record list. It was also his best finish ever at the national championships.

“I’m really proud of the way the guys ran,” head coach Dave Smith said. “I’m thrilled with the way they responded and bounced back from last year.

“We were second last year and were dejected and left with our heads down. We could have folded up camp and crumbled and not have been a trophy team this year.”

Also running his best time of the season, Tom Farrell finished in ninth place with 9:26.3. Shadrack Kipchirchir (29:43.0) and Joseph Manilafasha (29:48.8) rounded out the top 25 by finishing in 18th and 24th place, respectively. Kipchirchir and Manilfasha turned a season-best time and all three runners earned their best finish at the national championships.

“It went the way we planned,” Kipchirchir said. “Dave told us to run together and we did. We stood our ground and we finished well. It was amazing.”

By finishing in the top 40, Mecheso, Farrell, Kipchirchir and Manilfasha all earned All-American honors. This is the third time for both Mecheso and Farrell and the first time for Kipchirchir and Manilafasha.

Shane Moskowitz (30:22.6), running in his first national championship race, Kirubel Erassa (30:44.8) and Fabian Clarkson (31:15.2) all added to the team score by finishing 53rd, 102nd and 164th places.

For the eighth consecutive year, the Cowboys placed in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships.

“The guys really responded to the challenge of rebuilding the team,” Smith said. “We had some young guys that really came through and some guys with experience who ran the best races they’ve ever run.

“We had five guys run their best at nationals and that’s hard to do. I’m just thrilled. They worked hard. They earned it.”

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