Alabama’s Gilbert Kigen Wins NCAA South Region Cross Country Title
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama junior Gilbert Kigen outkicked teammate Alfred Chelanga to win the individual men’s title at the 2017 NCAA Cross Country South Regional Championship on Friday at UA’s Harry Pritchett Running Park in Tuscaloosa.
Kigen completed the 10,000-meter race in 29:44.5, which ranks as the eighth-fastest time for that distance at Alabama’s home course. Chelanga finished second in 29:47.1, which ranks No. 9 in course history. Fellow UA junior Vincent Kiprop finished fourth in 30:04.9.
With their finishes, all three Tide runners qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships, which will be held Nov. 18 in Louisville, Ky.
“I never expected I would have this much success right away coming in from junior college,” Kigen said. “It’s a great honor to be a regional champion. I want to thank Coach (Dan Waters) for the work he’s done to prepare us for this. I’ve improved a lot since I arrived here. Running with guys like Alfred (Chelanga) and Vincent (Kiprop) pushes you to be better. I’m excited for nationals.”
Kigen joins David Kimani (2000-01-02) and Antibahs Kosgei (2015) as the third UA runner to win a South Regional title.
“Qualifying three individuals and seeing Gilbert win the regional championship is exciting,” head coach Dan Waters said following the meet. “As a team, this was by far our best effort this year. The entire group ran with a lot of heart, they were primed and ready to go and battled to the end. The three guys up front went out with the plan to break the field open and they did exactly that.”
Alabama also received solid performances from senior Garrett Bull (32:11.6) and sophomore J.P. Brinyark (32:26.0), who finished 44th and 54th, respectively, to round out the scoring for the Tide.
Middle Tennessee (71 points) won the men’s team championship and Ole Miss (76) finished second to clinch team berths in the NCAA Championships. Alabama (95) was third, followed by Florida State (128) and Tennessee (165).
The Crimson Tide women posted a ninth-place finish in the 6,000-meter women’s competition. Junior Nicole Gardner was the Tide’s lead runner, finishing 38th in 21:04.5 Sophomores Elisabeth Danis (21:05.0) and Rebecca Buteau (21:06.4) were right behind Gardner in 39th and 40th, respectively.
Sophomore McKenzie Yanek finished 53rd in 21:18.9 and senior Caroline Barlow finished 88th in 21:47.5 to round out the scoring for Alabama.
“Elisabeth Danis really ran a smart race today and moved up as she went through,” Waters added. “Rebecca Buteau also did a nice job today too. She was poised and ready to run a great race. The story on the women’s side is that they are very young and there is a lot of potential there. I think overall, it was a great season. They gave great effort and ran with a lot of heart.”
Ole Miss (59 points) won the women’s team title and Georgia (73) finished second to secure spots in the NCAA Championships. Samford (94) finished third, followed by Florida State (129) and Georgia Tech (186) to round out the top five.
NCAA Cross Country South Regional
Friday, Nov. 10, 2017
Harry Pritchett Running Park
Host: University of Alabama
Women’s 6,000 Meters Team Results
1. Ole Miss (59)*
2. Georgia (73)*
3. Samford (94)
4. Florida State (129)
5. Georgia Tech (186)
9. ALABAMA (248)
*- NCAA Qualifier
Alabama Individual Women’s Results
38. Nicole Gardner, Jr., 21:04.5
39. Elisabeth Danis, So., 21:05.0
40. Rebecca Buteau, So., 21:06.5
53. McKenzie Yanek, So., 21:18.9
88. Caroline Barlow, Sr., 21:47.5
102. Shannon Marsh, Fr., 22:00.0
141. Jessica Gray, Jr., 22:41.8
Men’s 10,000-Meter Team Results
1. Middle Tennessee (71)*
2. Ole Miss (76)*
3. ALABAMA (95)
4. Florida State (128)
5. Tennessee (165)
*- NCAA Qualifier
Alabama Individual Men’s Results
1. Vincent Kiprop, Jr., 29:44.5*
2. Gilbert Kigen, Jr., 29:47.1*
4. Alfred Chelanga, Jr., 30:04.9*
44. Garrett Bull, Sr., 32:11.6
54. J.P. Brinyark, So., 32:26.0
61. Andrew Bull, Sr., 32:37.0
DNF. Clay Austell, So.
*- NCAA Individual Qualifier