University of Oregon's Edward Cheserek followed in the footsteps of some illustrious names from his college, such as Steve Prefontaine, Alberto Salazar and more recently Galen Rupp, when he took the prestigious American collegiate (NCAA) cross-country title on Saturday (23).
The 19-year-old Kenyan, a first-year student who went to high school in New Jersey, won the 75th anniversary edition of the championship in freezing conditions and had to battle strong wins on the muddy 10km course in Terre Haute, the home of hosts Indiana State University, before crossing the line in 29:42.
An eight-man pack, led by defending champion Kennedy Kithuka, were together at three kilometres. In the next two kilometres the Kenyan from Texas Tech tried to shake off his rivals but Cheserek stuck close to his compatriot.
At five kilometres, Kithuka pushed again and opened up a small lead over Cheserek but the latter maintained his poise and he took the lead decisively with less than two kilometres to go, eventually crossing the line with an 18-second advantage.
Harvard's Maksim Korolev, from Kazakhstan, finished third in 30:00 while the University of Colorado regained the men’s team title they last won in 2006.
Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino fulfilled her role as favourite for the women’s 6km race but had to work hard to overhaul Iona College's British international Kate Avery.
Avery led by three seconds at the 4km mark but D’Agostino passed her shortly afterwards and strode away to win in 20:01. Boise State’s Emma Bates came through strongly in the final kilometre to take second in 20:04 with Avery eventually finishing third in 20:06. Providence University took the women’s team title for the first time since 1995.
Tilburg and Roeselaare races
On the other side of the Atlantic, Sunday (24) saw a number of important cross-country races around Europe, and none more so than the International Warandecross in the Dutch city of Tilburg.
Belgium’s Dame Tasama pulled away from local runner Khalid Choukoud in the final kilometre after a race-long duel to win over the 10km course in 29:58, with his Dutch rival easing up when he was beaten and taking second with 30:11. However, Choukoud got some compensation by being crowned the Dutch champion for the fifth successive year.
A distant third was France’s Onespore Nkunzimana, who came home in 30:33.
The women’s race, over 8.1km, was won by Ethiopian-born Sifan Hassan in 27:09.
The newly-minted Dutch citizen, who received her new passport on Friday, is expected to make her international debut for her adopted country at the 2013 SPAR European Cross Country Championships.
Hassan was a convincing winner from Portugal’s 2012 European 10,000m champion Dulce Felix, who finished 20 seconds in arrears.
Sweden’s Meraf Bahta was third in 28:01.
Across the border at the Lotto CrossCup in the Belgian town of Roeselaare, which like the Tilburg event was another European Athletics Cross Country Permit Meeting, there were successes for local runners Bashir Abdi and Almensch Belete.
Abdi proved the best on the muddy 9.41km course, pulling away from Jeroen D'Hoedt in the second half of the race to come home in 29:02, 18 seconds in front of the former European junior champion.
Belgium’s 2011 European cross-country champion Atelaw Bekele is still struggling to find his best form after suffering achilles problems since the start of the year, which caused him to miss almost all of the summer, and he finished a modest seventh.
In the women’s 6.25km race, Almensch Belete dominated from start to finish. She was alone at the front for almost the whole race, crossing the line in 21:33 and finishing 22 seconds ahead of former Belgian international Veerle Dejaeghere, now 40.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF