Send this article to a friend Print RSS

2011 National Championships Preview

November 16, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The 56th Annual NAIA Men's and 32nd Annual Women's Cross Country National Championships will take place Saturday at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver, Wash. The men's 8K championship race will start at 10:30 a.m. PST, followed by the women's 5K gun sounding at 11:45 a.m. The 2011 National Championships are hosted by the Cascade Collegiate Conference and Concordia University-Portland (Ore.). It is the third-consecutive year that the event has been held at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

After winning its first-ever men's national championship last season, Southern Oregon will be aiming for a second title. The Raiders took home the banner thanks to a trio of All-Americans and tallying 105 team points. Just one of those honorees, senior Ryan Sorenson, returns to the Fort Vancouver course.

Wayland Baptist (Texas) finished 19 points back from Southern Oregon with 124 points for its highest finish in the event. The Pioneers are armed with the reigning individual titlist, Kennedy Kithuka, along with All-Americans Hildon Boen and Edward Taragon.

Kithuka isn't the only national champion among the field. The sophomore will once again battle 2009 titlist and three-time All-American Silas Kisorio of Oklahoma Christian. In his final campaign, Kisorio has helped guide the top-ranked Eagles hold at No. 1 for five-consecutive weeks. Oklahoma Christian will also look to All-American Geoffrey Njonjo with hopes of taking home its first-ever national championship.

The 32-team men's field features 21 conference/independent/unaffiliated group champions, one conference/independent/unaffiliated group runner-up and nine at-large selections. Concordia (Ore.) received a host berth to the event. There are also 100 individual qualifiers. Among the competitors, 19 have previously taken home All-America accolades, with Kisorio leading the way with three mentions. College of Idaho's Greg Montgomery and Austin Ellis of Milligan (Tenn.) have twice been named All-Americans, while 16 having earned the distinction once.

Two-time defending women's national champion Cal State San Marcos can become the third program to three-peat. The Cougars won their second national championship by a 39-point spread to two-time runner-up Biola (Calif.) a year ago. Senior All-Americans Carol Schryver and two-time honoree Caitlin Villarreal are joined by junior All-American Kelly Thompson to push second-ranked Cal State San Marcos to the title.

Powered behind a pair of two-time senior All-Americans in Lauren Jimison and Jacky Kipwambok, top-ranked Azusa Pacific (Calif.) is seeking its second title after winning it all in 2008.

Eastern Oregon sophomore Karlee Coffee, the 2010 NAIA Women's Cross Country National Championship runner-up, will be looking for her first individual title with the field wide open. Coffee isn't alone with eyes on crossing the line first. After finishing 18th, eighth and third, Obsie Birru of Grand View (Iowa) is aiming to finish her career on top and become the first Viking to win an individual women's championship.

The 32-team women's field features 22 conference/independent/unaffiliated group champions, one conference/independent/unaffiliated group runner-up and eight at-large selections. Concordia received a host berth to the event. There are also 105 individual qualifiers. Birru headlines the field of runners as a three-time All-American, while four others have twice earned the honor and eight others have once finished among the top 30.