Lagat Wins Men's Title at Pac-10 Cross Country Championships
November 1, 1997
STANFORD, Calif. -- Washington State sophomore Bernard Lagat held off defending champion Mebrahtom Keflezighi of UCLA to win the men's individual title during the Pacific-10 Conference Cross Country Championships Saturday afternoon at the Stanford University Golf Course.
Lagat (Nandi, Kenya) beat Keflezighi by eight seconds with a winning time of 23 minutes 59 seconds for 8,000 meters. Lagat ran conservatively at the start. He took lead of a small pack of front-runners in the third mile and pulled away on the long hill on the back of the course.
"That's a substantial victory for Bernard," said WSU coach Dr. Li Li, noting Lagat beat Keflezighi who won the 5,000 and 10,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track Championships last spring. "I'm extremely happy that the men's title is back at Washington State."
Lagat is the eighth Cougar male to claim a conference title, joining Gerry Lindgren (1969), John Ngeno (1972, 1974), Joshua Kimeto (1975), Henry Rono (1976, 1978, 1979), Joel Cheruiyot (1977), Richard Tuwei (1981) and Josephat Kapkory (1993).
Jon Murray (Stanwood, Wash.), running his first Pac-10 meet, finished 13th overall with a time of 24:57 as the Cougars' second runner.
Stanford's Nathan Nutter, who finished third in 24:18, led the Cardinal to their second straight team title with 33 points. Oregon was a distant second with 86 points and Washington State was third with 88 points.
"On one hand I'm pleased that our men moved up one spot from last year and we had some great individual performances," said Li. "On the other hand I feel frustrated and disappointed that we were just two points behind Oregon."
Amy Skieresz of Arizona became the first woman in Pac-10 history to win the conference title three times as she breezed to a 33-second victory. Skieresz covered the 5,000-meter course in 16:40, just four seconds off her course record set last year.
Four Stanford women finished in the top seven as the Cardinal repeated as team champion. Oregon and Washington tied for second place with 72 points each. Washington State's women finished seventh overall with 163 points.
"The women ran the first race and the temperature was much hotter at that time," said Li. "Joanne (Hunsinger) ran very well today."
Cougar senior Kristin Ritzenthaler (Gorlitz, Germany) was the top WSU runner as she finished 15th overall in 17:57. Junior Joanne Hunsinger (Fairchild AFB) was the second Cougar to cross as she ran 18:36 for 31st place. Junior Kimberly Schmolka (Port Orchard, Wash.), a normal front-runner for the Cougars, battled through a bout of the flu to finish 46th overall.
PACIFIC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS (Stanford, Calif., 8,000 meters) - Men's Results
PACIFIC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS (Stanford, Calif., 5,000 meters) - Women's Results
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