MADISON, Wis. — Colorado’s Dani Jones overcame New Mexico’s Weini Kelati down the stretch to win Saturday’s NCAA Championship women’s cross-country race.
Second-ranked Colorado also ran faster with its fourth and fifth runners to edge the Lobos for the team title — thus preventing No. 1-ranked UNM from being able to claim a national dynasty in the sport.
Coach Joe Franklin’s defending national champion Lobos finished runner-up Saturday after claiming the titles in 2015 and 2017.
“We just got beat by a better team in Colorado,” said Franklin. “They were absolutely on fire. There’s nothing else we could have done.
“The race went according to plan. It went better than what we planned, just Colorado was on fire.”
Kelati, who finished the 6-kilometer race just seconds behind Jones (19 minutes, 42.8 seconds to 19:45.3), led three turquoise-clad Lobos in the top nine. Reigning individual champion Ednah Kurgat placed fifth (19:55.8) followed by senior Charlotte Prouse, who capped her collegiate cross country career in 20:02.1.
But Colorado’s five scorers all placed in the top 22 to finish with 65 points, well ahead of UNM with 103. Oregon (160) finished a distant third in the field of 31 teams and 38 individual runners.
Kelati trimmed five places off of her 2017 NCAA Championship standings, although she ran about 10 seconds slower in Madison.
Sophomore Adva Cohen was the fourth Lobo to score, placing 43rd overall, but 38 in team points, with 20:39.7. Senior Emily Martin was the final point-scorer for UNM with 49 points after running 20:44.7.
Junior Hannah Nuttall completed the race in 20:53.0 and sophomore Sophie Eckel rounded out the Lobo entries at 21:19.4.
Through the first two kilometers of the race, Kelati ran in the lead pack, sitting in third at 6:38.2 and just 0.2 seconds behind the leader. Kurgat and Prouse ran close together further back in 15th and 17th at the first split, clocking 6:39.2 and 6:39.3, respectively.
At the 4K mark, Kelati held steady in third with a time of 13:27.7, while Kurgat improved her placement 10 spots to fifth, checking in at 13:27.9. Prouse was able to move up one spot in the second portion of the race, registering 13:29.8.