LAKELAND, Fla. – Yazmine Wright kept the winning tradition alive with her victory at the American Athletic Conference (AAC) Cross Country Championships Friday morning at Holloway Park in Lakeland, Florida. The Wichita State men placed eight runners in the top 25 to earn a second-place team finish behind the No. 9 nationally-ranked Tulsa team.
“[Wright] said this fall that she was going to win conference, and I’m proud of her that she kept her head together through the season and was able to come out and achieve the goal that she wanted to accomplish,” head coach Kirk Hunter said.
Wright is the ninth Shocker woman to win the individual conference title and just the second to win the AAC, following Shocker graduate Winny Koskei’s three-year reign as champion.
“It felt really, really good to win,” Wright said. “With Winny graduating, I knew that someone new would have to win, and I really wanted it to be me.”
The pace was fast in the first half of the race and she was hanging with some other women, but she made her move at the 4k mark to pull away and carry her lead through to the finish.
“The race plan went perfectly,” Hunter said. “It honestly went a little easier than we expected. We expected to try a couple things in the last mile, but she didn’t end up needing to.”
Wright’s time of 21:03.30 beat out the second-place finisher from SMU by 15 seconds.
Danielle Rinn battled to an 11th-place (22:02.50) finish to medal and earn all-conference honors after missing all-conference by just one place last season.
“I just had that chip on my shoulder,” Rinn said. “With 400 meters to go, coach told me I was in 16th and I told myself, ‘this is not happening again,’ so I started kicking it into that second gear. I passed a few girls and got the medal.”
Lubna Suied (45th; 23:15.70), McKenna Paintin (54th; 23:35.40) and Jenna Muma (58th; 23:43.00) rounded out the top five Shockers to help the women to a sixth-place team finish.
On the men’s side, Wichita State was led by Shadrack Chumba, who ran an 8k personal-best time of 24:35.90 to place 9th and earn all-conference honors.
“This morning I woke up, and I was feeling good, so I decided to go at it,” Chumba said. “I’m really happy because I’ve wanted this for so long.”
Adam Moore (10th; 24:37.00), Bryce Merriman (12th; 24:39.50) and Clayton Duchatschek (14th; 24:45.80) also made all-conference with their top-15 performances, becoming the first Shocker men’s team since 1975 to place four men on the all-conference list.
Trey Rios was the final Shocker to score for the men in their second-place team finish (63 points).
“The men did a great job today,” Hunter said. “The overall group is a heck of a good group of guys, and I’m happy with the way they competed. It was a team effort and that’s what we’ve been doing all year.”
The Golden Hurricanes swept the team competition, with the men scoring just 19 points and the women tallying 48.
“We had to focus on where we’re at,” Hunter said. “Tulsa is a phenomenal team that’s ranked nationally, so you have to be realistic when you’re racing them. I talked to the guys about focusing on getting Cincinnati and Memphis, which are really good teams, and they went out and executed their race plan very well.”
The Shockers beat third-place Cincinnati by 16 points.
Wichita State cross country returns to action Friday, Nov. 12 for the NCAA Midwest Regional in Iowa City, Iowa.
(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)