TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Senior Stanley Kebenei earned his second career sixth-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Saturday afternoon, as he crossed the finish line in 30:30.10 to lead the Arkansas men’s cross country team to a 28th-place team finish.
Kebenei becomes the 30th runner in school history to earn multiple NCAA All-American honors and is the second runner in the Chris Bucknam era to accomplish the feat, as Dorian Ulrey collected back-to-back All-American accolades during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
The Kenyan native put on a strong display on Saturday, as he was amongst the leaders the entire race. Kebenei paced himself early and stayed in front of a group of 60-plus runners that were within 1.2 seconds of one another at the 5-kilometer marker.
The race would eventually spread out, and it was Kebenei leading the race by a narrow margin after 8-kilometers. The senior would eventually be caught and surpassed by five runners, but he held on strong over the final kilometer and placed sixth for the second-straight season at the NCAA Championship.
Kebenei’s performance spearheaded a group of Razorback harriers that posted a score of 647 to place 28th overall. Junior Cale Wallace was the second Arkansas runner to cross the finish line, as he came in 151st (31:57.40). Freshman Alex George collected a 10-kilometer time of 32:20.50 to place 183 and junior Gabe Gonzalez posted a mark of 32:45.30 to earn a 209th-place finish. Redshirt sophomore Aidan Swain rounded out the scoring rotation with a time of 32:55.00 to place 218.
Sophomore Christian Heymsfield and freshman Austen Dalquist collected a 227 and 229 place finish respectively.
Heysmfield was honored after the race with the NCAA Elite 89 award. The redshirt freshman earned the award by having the highest accumulative GPA of any runner competing on Saturday. It is the second time that an Arkansas runner has garnered this prestigious award, as Andrew Pisechko won the award during the 2014 track season.
Colorado continued its dominance on the cross country course on Saturday, as the Buffaloes placed three runners inside the Top 5 to help them score 65 points and win the program’s second straight NCAA Cross Country Championship.
Edward Cheserek of Oregon brought home the NCAA Cross Country Individual Title, as the sophomore completed the 10-kilometer course in 30:19.40.
Chris Bucknam Post-Race Sound
On Kebenei’s Performance: “Stanley did a great job today, there’s no question about that. There was a point late in the race he was second, and he tried to catch Cheserek a bit too early and that caused him to slip back a few spots towards the end. But whenever you can finish inside the Top 10 in this race, it’s impressive performance and I’m really proud of the way he competed today.”
On Kebenei’s Legacy with Arkansas Cross Country: “He still has a track season ahead, but today puts him in an elite category in an elite program. He works hard, he’s done the work correctly, he isn’t timid and that’s the name of the game at this level. You have to run with confidence and he’s certainly done that. He is up there with a lot of good athletes and I’m proud to have coached him.”
On his team’s performance: “I know if you go talk to our guys, they’ll you it wasn’t the performance they were hoping for. I felt this was a team that could finish Top 20 but that ultimately didn’t happen. The kids put in a great season, they worked hard, won the SEC Championships, but they were expecting a good finish today. With this race you can’t be shy. You have to get out early and get in a good position and outside of Stanley, we were unable to do that. We return a lot of kids for next year, so we’ll take it as a learning experience and try to get better in time for next season.”
Top Five Team Finish
|Northern Arizona||188 (3-24-27-45-89)|
Arkansas Runner’s Finish
For more information on Arkansas men’s cross country, follow @RazorbackTF on Twitter.