Blanks, Valby capture NCAA cross country titles

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Harvard’s Graham Blanks won the men’s race and Florida’s Parker Valby won the women’s at the NCAA cross country championships on Saturday while the Oklahoma State men and North Carolina State women captured team titles.

Oklahoma State, which lost a tiebreak to Northern Arizona last year, handily beat the three-time defending champion Lumberjacks on the 10,000-meter course with 49 points. Northern Arizona had 71 and BYU was third with 196 points.

The Cowboys put five runners in the top 15, led by freshman Denis Kipngetich, who was fourth in 28-minutes, 59.7 seconds. Brian Musau (29:11) and Fouad Messaoudi (29:13.3) were eighth and 10th, respectively. Victor Shitsama was 12th and Alex Maier 15th to round out the OSU scorers.

Blanks finished 28:37.7, taking the lead in the last 1,000 meter with an uphill kick. He is the first Ivy League man to win the NCAA title. He was three seconds in front of Habtom Samuel of New Mexico with Ky Robisson of Stanford third (28:55.7).

OSU’s last title came in 2012.

Northern Arizona has been in the top two eight-straight years and 11 times overall. Drew Bosley (29:03.8) and Nico Young (29:04.2) were fifth and sixth, respectively, after finishing second (Young) and third last season. The Lumberjacks’ other three scorers finished in the top 25.

N.C. State won its third-straight women’s title with 123 points, one in front of Northern Arizona, which had its best finish ever. Oklahoma State was third with 156 points.

Kately Tuohy placed fifth in the 6,000-meter race in 19:23.0 for the Wolfpack. NAU’s top finisher was Gracelyn Larkin in 13th (19:35.6).

Valby, second last year, finished in 18:55.2 for a championship-meet record, helping the Gators to fifth place. Second-place Doris Lemngale (19:05.7) of Alabama and Olivia Markezich of Notre Dame (19:10) also broke the previous record.

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