ISU cross country comes up short at Big 12 Championships

Kevin Shay

The ISU women finished third behind Texas Tech and Colorado at the Big 12 Championships on Saturday, while the men’s side took fifth.

Texas Tech won the women’s 6K race, while Oklahoma State won the men’s 8k race. It was the third consecutive Big 12 championship for each school.

Cyclone junior Betsy Saina improved on her 17th-place finish from last year’s Championships to finish second in a time of 20:18.55.

“I was really happy about it, I feel I’m getting better and better,” Saina said.

Fellow Kenya native Aliphine Tuliamuk finished right behind Saina in third place with a time of 20:19.86.

“All the time when I was running, I was trying to look west and east [to spot Aliphine],” Saina said. “I didn’t even realize that she was finishing [right behind me].”

Both of the ISU runners closed well in the last thousand kilometers of the race.

“Both Betsy and Aliphine were in third and fourth with about 1,000 [kilometers] left,” said assistant coach Travis Hartke. “They both caught a Texas Tech girl to make move up to second and third.”

However, Iowa State’s Lucy Kennedy — 18th overall — and Semehar Tesfaye, who finished 27th, did not receive the top-15 finishes they were hoping for, and that’s where Texas Tech extended its lead to capture another championship. The Red Raiders’ Rose Tanui won the race with a time of 20:04.34.

Not all was lost outside of the top-three finishes by Saina and Tuliamuk. Hartke was pleased with the race of ISU junior Dani Stack.

“She had a really good race, probably her best race I’ve seen her have,” Hartke said. “She moved up the field really well.”

Stack finished in a time of 21:27.15, good for 29th place, and a 42-spot improvement from last year’s Big 12 Championships.

“I definitely think it was my best collegiate race by far,” Stack said. “And, I definitely think there’s room for improvement.”

As dissatisfied as the nationally ranked women were with the third place finish as a team, the men were even more discontent.

A somewhat frustrated Hartke described the men’s race as “not amazing by any means,” as the team could not gain an extra seven points to finish fourth ahead of Texas.

“We were right there to beat [Texas],” Hartke said. “But we just couldn’t come through.”

Hillary Bor led the Cyclones but was ultimately disappointed with his 17th-place finish in a time of 24:53.44. ISU sophomore Rico Loy, freshman Martin Coolidge, and seniors Daniel Murray and Clayton Carper rounded out the top five ISU finishers.

Although the team as a whole was disappointed with its respective finishes at the Big 12 Championships, the men are looking forward to NCAA Regionals and Nationals in the coming weeks.

“We can compete with Texas Tech and Colorado,” Stack said. “I think we’re going to be better in two weeks and three weeks than we are now. It would have been nice to beat them, but we’ll have another chance at Nationals.”

The Cyclones head to Peoria, Ill., for the NCAA Regionals on Nov. 13. Hartke is looking for a better all-around team performance in Peoria.

“We’re going to have to get everyone on board and have a closer group [of runners in the] top five,” Hartke said.