University of Alabama junior Gilbert Kigen won the NCAA South Regional cross country championship individual title with a time of 29:44.5 on the 10K course at UA’s Harry Pritchett Running Park on Friday morning.
Three of Alabama’s runners placed in the top four to lead the Crimson Tide to a third-place finish with 95 points. Alfred Chelanga was runner-up with a time of 29:47.1 and Vincent Kiprop was fourth in 30:04.9.
“From the start of the race we tried to push the pace from the first mile until the last mile,” Kigen said.
The trio qualified as individuals for the NCAA championships on Nov. 18 in Louisville, Ky., and have competed with a pack-like mentality all season.
“The whole point with the three guys up front is they were really trying to press and break the field open and they did exactly that,” Alabama coach Dan Waters said. “Vincent really did most of the heavy lifting today and he kind of finished off nice and easy and Gilbert has got a little more turnover and was able to sprint by some guys at the end. Alfred had a great race too, so those guys have been trading off first place finishes all year long and they have been training side by side everyday.”
Middle Tennessee State won with 71 points, followed by Ole Miss with 76 points, to advance to the national championships.
Garrett Bull finished 44th (32:11.6) and Northside graduate J.P. Brinyark placed 54th (32:26) to round out the top five scoring for Alabama.
“Technically in the men’s race, we just missed (qualifying) in the first mile, or 1,500 meters. We just didn’t have our guys in the right position, and that was a little bit disappointing,” Waters said. “We made a tactical error early that we paid for at the end, but as far as our effort and our heart, it was the best they’ve ever run as far as putting everything out there.”
In the women’s 6K race, Ole Miss took first with 59 points, followed by Georgia with 73 points and Samford University with 94 points. Alabama placed ninth with 248 points.
For Alabama, Nicole Gardner finished 38th with a time of 21:04.5, followed by teammates Lizzy Danis (21:05) and Rebecca Buteau (21:06.4). McKenzie Yanek, 53rd (21:18.9) and Caroline Barlow, 88th (21:47.5) rounded out the top five.