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Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones finish cross country season with top-five finish

Iowa+State%E2%80%99s+Sanele+Masondo%2C+left%2C+and+Brigham+Young%E2%80%99s+Garrett+Stanford%2C+right%2C+run+in+the+Big+12+Men%E2%80%99s+Cross+Country+Championship+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+28%2C+2023%2C+at+the+Iowa+State+University+Cross+Country+Course+in+Ames%2C+Iowa.
Daniel Jacobi II
Iowa State’s Sanele Masondo, left, and Brigham Young’s Garrett Stanford, right, run in the Big 12 Men’s Cross Country Championship on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023, at the Iowa State University Cross Country Course in Ames, Iowa.

Both the men’s and women’s Cyclones cross country teams traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, to cap off their seasons at the NCAA D1 Cross Country Championships. The women’s team slipped to 20th at the end of the championship race, while the men’s team landed in the top five.

Both the men’s and women’s field consisted of 31 teams, with an assortment of individual competitors in the mix. The women raced first on Saturday morning, with the men’s race following after.

The Cyclones’ teams qualified by placing second at the Midwest Regional Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma, a week prior to the Championships. Both teams finished behind only the Oklahoma State runners, who also traveled to Charlottesville and topped the rankings.

A slip down the standings

In contrast to their top-two finish at the Midwest Regionals, the Cyclone women found themselves in 20th place at the end of the race. The team finished with 458 points, a stark 383-point difference between their finish at Stillwater.

At the top of the standings, North Carolina State earned their third-straight title, cementing themselves at the top of the women’s cross country field again.

The Cyclones’ top finisher, sophomore Maelle Porcher, came in with a time of 20 minutes and 33.7 seconds. Porcher finished 83rd overall among 247 finishers.

Top-five finish

The Cyclone men finished in a much more favorable place, finding themselves in fifth. They also had the benefit of being second to Oklahoma State at the Midwest Regional, who ended up becoming the national champions.

Oklahoma State overthrew Northern Arizona who were on a three-straight championship run. The Lumberjacks finished as the runner-up team. 

The Cyclones also finished as the third overall Big 12 team, behind the aforementioned Cowboys and BYU, who finished third.

Junior Sanele Masondo came in 16th overall, among 236 finishers. He peaked at 12th place during the 8,000- and 9,000-meter checkpoints and finished with a time of 29 minutes and 22.1 seconds.

A standings mix-up

Neither Cyclone teams finished with the same top finisher as the regional meet. At the Midwest Regional, Madelynn Hill finished as the top of the Cyclone women and Said Mechaal finished as the top of the men’s team.

However, at the NCAA Championships, the Cyclones placed brand new top runners. For the men, Mechaal was not a top-three finisher. He instead found himself behind Masondo, Rodgers Kiplimo and Gable Sieperda. Mechaal found himself behind those three, ranking 55th overall.

Hill only sank one place in the women’s rankings, placing behind Porcher. Porcher impressed during her race by rising 113 places through her 6,000-meter race. 

As stated prior, the NCAA Championships marked the end of the 2023 cross country season. The Cyclones, alongside the rest of the NCAA, will enter the offseason with work to do.

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