Monday, November 23, 2009

Illinois Wins Cross Country Championship

Angela Bizzarri, senior at the University of Illinois, won the women's NCAA cross country championship today! Here's a picture of her crossing the finish line. She ran a fantastic race and deserved the win. I usually go over to Terre Haute and watch the event in person (awesome experience!), but this year I watched it live on TV. The coverage was pretty good and it was great seeing a local runner hang tough and win the championship. Colorado's Jenny Barringer was the pre-race favorite and she was exchanging the lead with Florida State's Susan Kuijken for the first half of the race...until Barringer suddenly slowed down and wobbled before composing herself and getting back on track. When Barringer stuttered, Kuijken took the lead and looked strong. Bizzarri and Washington's Kendra Schaaf also passed Barringer and began closing in on Kuijken. In the last 800 meters, Bizzarri & Schaaf overtook Kuijken. The two women battled in the straightaway, but Bizzarri had the stronger sprint and finished about 5 seconds ahead of Schaaf for the overall win. Schaaf took second and Kuijken took third.

Barringer never caught the leaders, but she valiantly tried to continue while obviously suffering extreme discomfort...she even collapsed to the ground at one point later in the race...but pulled herself up and finished with a strong sprint at the end. She finished in 163rd place. Very bizarre. Hope she is OK.

On the men's side there wasn't much drama. Sammy Chelanga from Liberty University (home of ultra runner David Horton!) led from start to finish and set a new course record.

It figures that the year I don't go over to Terre Haute to see the championships an Illinois runner would win the whole thing! Damn. Oh well, GO ILLINI!!!


1. Angela Bizzarri, Illinois (19:46)
2. Kendra Schaaf, Washington
3. Susan Kuijken, Florida State
TEAM champion = Villanova

1. Sam Chelanga, Liberty (28:41)
2. David McNeill, Northern Arizona
3. Chris Derrick, Stanford
TEAM champion = Oklahoma State

Full individual and team results available on the NCAA web page.

Story on the University of Illinois sports web page.

Interesting side note...Bizzarri and the rest of the Illinois cross country team train on my "home" course at Lake of the Woods trails. As did Craig Virgin years ago. Virgin won the NCAA cross country championship for Illinois in 1975. There's good karma on those trails!

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