Oklahoma Christian Wins 2011 National Championship
VANCOUVER, Wash. - Oklahoma Christian captured its first-ever team title and Wayland Baptist’s (Texas) Kennedy Kithuka defended his individual championship at the 2011 NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Championships held Saturday at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
The Eagles had four runners place among the top 30 to tally 93 team points, led by four-time All-American and two-time runner-up Silas Kisorio. The senior posted an 8K time of 23:59 to finish second. Kisorio was followed by two-time All-American Geoffrey Njonjo in 10th (24:21), David McWilliams at 14th (24:37) and Brayden Barrientez in 26th (24:59) and Nathan Mesta at 41st (25:20).
“In a race like this, you expect a few guys to run well and a few guys to not have their best day,” Oklahoma Christian head cross country coach Mark Thompson said. “I don’t think that happened. Really, 1-7, we ran about as well as we could have. There were maybe a few points here or there, but we didn’t leave many points on the course.”
Cal State San Marcos posted its best finish at the 56th annual event, finishing as the runner-up with 188 points and a trio of All-Americans. Defending national champion Southern Oregon took third with 206 points and two All-Americans, while Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) was fourth with 228 points and one All-American. Rounding out the top-five teams was Wayland Baptist three top-15 finishers and 254 points.
Kithuka captured his second national title in as many races he has ran at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. The Nairobi, Kenya, native, posted the best time of his sophomore campaign, completing the 8K course in 23:15. He was also one second shy of breaking the 15-year championship record of 23:14 set by Silah Misoi of former NAIA member Life (Ga.) in 1996.
“It feels good to win twice,” Kithuka said. “I came in like a champion and now I am a champion again. I am so happy for that. It’s a good achievement.”
With a repeat performance, Kithuka became the 15th individual to win back-to-back national championships.
“I thought I would be able to defend my title,” he said. “I think I have the potential [to four-peat] because I will keep training hard and I trust in God. I would like to try and keep winning.”
Eight teams were represented among the top-10 placewinners. Kithuka’s teammate Edward Taragon earned his second All-America honor a 24:05 fourth-place finish. Coming in third with a time of 24:03 was John Gilbertson of The Master’s (Calif.) and seven seconds behind him was counterpart Anthony Pizzo for fifth place (24:10).
It was the third-consecutive year that the NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Championships were held at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. It was hosted by the Cascade Collegiate Conference and Concordia University-Portland (Ore.).