Another weekend of championship cross country running produced some exciting action including two NCAA qualifying performances south of the border. Farah Abdulkarim and Shona McCulloch are both off to Madison, Wisconsin this coming Saturday, but their pathways were very different.
Farah Abdulkarim, a junior transfer at the University of Mississippi, executed a marvelous race plan to qualify for his first NCAA Championship on the strength of his third place finish and team gold. The Glebe Collegiate graduate bided his time, holding strong in the lead pack through 5km, crossing the race’s midpoint in 15 minutes 48.2 seconds to sit in 28th.
Abdulkarim would then spend the final 5km turning up the heat on his competition, moving to 15th, 7th, 5th, 4th and finally into the bronze medal position in each of the successive kilometres. He would negative split the race, finishing in a time of 31 minutes 18.6 seconds. While the top five individual performance assured Farah a spot in Wisconsin, he will be joined by his Rebel teammates as he led them to a dominating victory, 45 points, ahead of Florida State’s 92 points.
Across the continent in Sacramento, California, Shona McCulloch was busy finding a less direct route to Wisconsin. The red-shirt freshman at the University of Washington turned in arguably the best performance of her young Husky career with a 28th place finish, just three spots out of all region honours. “The biggest surprise was Shona, just a huge improvement and the best race she’s run in a Husky uniform from her. She is starting to show some of her high school form and came up big for us today,” said Washington head coach Maurica Powell.
As her school’s third scorer, the Longfields Davidson graduate helped Washington to a fourth place finish. While only the top two teams receive an automatic bid, the Huskies were awarded one of 13 at large bids yesterday by the NCAA.
Also competing at the NCAA regional championships, Jeremie Venne placed 110th at the Mid-Atlantic Championships, completing the 10km course in 33 minutes 46.2 seconds.
Closer to home at the USports Championships, Carleton University’s Jenna Van Vliet produced the top performance. The environmental engineering graduate student finished 40th overall, completing the 8km Fort Henry course in 30 minutes 24.0 seconds. The University of Ottawa duo of Rebecca Brennan and Magale Babineau finished 79th and 85th respectively.
On the men’s side, Nic Roberts and Nico Pedersen represented the Gee Gees, finishing 89th and 93rd respectively. Roberts crossed the line in 33 minutes 41.1 seconds while Pedersen followed 3.6 seconds later.
Finally, at the Athletics Ontario Cross Country Championships, the Lions were represented by a small contingent of Elana Tyman and Keaton McGrath. Both athletes finished 60th overall in their respective midget categories.