Nov. 20, 2010
Contact: Amanda Dahl, NAIA Manager of Sports Information & Media Services, firstname.lastname@example.org
VANCOUVER, Wash. - California State-San Marcos and Shorter's (Ga.) Justyna Mudy defended their national titles by winning the team and individual championships at the 31st Annual Women's Cross Country National Championships Saturday at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
All five of California State-San Marcos' runners placed among the top 50 to total 88 points for its second team title in as many years. Biola (Calif.) was the runner-up for the second-straight year with 127 points. Black Hills State (S.D.) took third with 151 points and was followed by Malone (Ohio) with 164 points and Simon Fraser (B.C.) with 177 points to round out the top-five teams.
"I really have to hand it to the girls today," California State-San Marcos head women's cross country coach Steve Scott said. "They really performed above and beyond my expectations. I told them it was between us, Biola (Calif.) and Azusa Pacific (Calif.), and all of the three teams could win. To win by this margin really shows how well we were today. For a team to repeat, it is very difficult. For the girls to live up to the expectations, it's unbelievable. I couldn't' be more proud."
The Cougars were paced by junior Caitlin Villarreal, sophomore Kelly Thompson and junior Carol Schryver, as the trio captured All-America honors. Villarreal placed 14th with a time of 18:18, followed by Thompson at 27th in 18:30 and Schryver at 30th in 18:33.
"The girls performed better than last year, they had outstanding performances today," Scott said. "Katie [Villarreal] ran her best race of the season."
California State-San Marcos entered Saturday's race not only as the reigning National Champion, but as the top-ranked team. The Cougars have been listed in the No. 1 spot on the NAIA Women's Cross Country Coaches' Top 25 Poll for three-consecutive weeks.
"Coming into today being the defending National Champion and ranked No. 1 is the hardest thing to do," Scott said. "I am just as happy, if not happier this year because the girls had to overcome stress and pressure. They did a fabulous job."
Shorter senior Justyna Mudy defended her individual crown by completing the 5K course in 17:42. She finished four seconds ahead of runner-up Karlee Coffey, a sophomore from Eastern Oregon (17:46). The top-five finishers were within 11 seconds of each other. Rounding out the top-five were Grand View's (Iowa) Obsie Birru in third (17:51), Erin Curran of Black Hills State (S.D.) in fourth (17:52) and fifth-place finisher Lauren Jimison of Azusa Pacific (17:53).
"Repeating was hard, but this one is more special," Mudy said. "After my injury [during the outdoor season], I was talking to Coach [Stephenson] and I told him I wanted to shoot for second, because I didn't feel like I could repeat. The offseason was hard for me and I didn't feel like I would be able to do it again. Everyone was helping me; my coaches and all of the fans that were yelling along the way. I am glad that this race over, but I am upset because it is my last cross country race. I don't know if I deserve this because I didn't expect to win."
Mudy's victory made her just the fifth woman in the event's history to repeat as the National Champion. The last individual to win back-to-back titles was Mirriam Kaumba of Oklahoma Baptist in 2003 and 2004. Mudy won her first title with a time of 17:30.
"Knowing that I am only the fifth woman to repeat, wow, that makes me even more thankful," Mudy said. "I am so glad that I was able to win both titles on the same course."
She caps off her senior campaign on the cross country course with a third-straight top-five finish. As a sophomore, she placed third in the championship that was held at the Wayne E. Dannehl Cross Country Course in Kenosha, Wis.
The 2010 National Championships were hosted by the Cascade Collegiate Conference and Concordia (Ore.). It was the second-consecutive year that the event has been held at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.