Orange’s Knight, Notre Dame’s Rohrer take home individual gold medals
CARY, N.C. (theACC.com) – Two nationally top-10 ranked teams performed true to form as the Syracuse men and NC State women claimed 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference Cross Country Championship titles Friday morning at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Led by junior gold medalist Justyn Knight, Syracuse men placed five runners among the top nine to win its fourth consecutive ACC championship in convincing fashion with 29 team points. Virginia (72 points) and NC State (82) rounded out the top three.
Rachel Koon’s fourth-place time of 20:03.8 led five NC State runners in the top 15 as the Wolfpack women finished with 53 team points, 21 ahead of second-place Notre Dame (74). Virginia Tech (153) finished third.
Knight won a spirited sprint to the finish with Louisville’s Edwin Kibichiy to take first place in the men’s 8K race with a time of 22:50.7. Kibichiy checked in at 22:52.2. Virginia’s Lachlan Cook, who finished 11th with a time of 23:28.5, emerged as the ACC men’s Freshman of the Year.
Notre Dame sophomore Anna Rohrer led the women’s field with a gold medal time of 19:26.4 on the 6K course. Louisville’s Dorcas Wasike earned ACC Freshman of the Year honors with her seventh-place time of 20:14.7.
Syracuse, the defending NCAA men’s champion and currently ranked No. 6 nationally, saw Colin Bennie follow Knight with a fifth-place time of 23:12.8. Iliass Aounai took sixth place at 23:22.4, while Joel Hubbard (23:25.1) placed eighth and Philo Germano (23:25.8) ninth.
“If we run like we did today we can run with anybody,” Syracuse coach Chris Fox said. “I’m not saying we can win the nationals again, but we can be up there. I am really proud of the guys. It was hot. They ran really smart for the course and the weather. They just kind of tempoed it early and then ran a really good race for the second half of the race.”
Knight, the 2015 ACC individual runner-up, bettered his time of a year ago, by more than a minute.
“It came down to the stretch,” Knight said. “Edwin Kibichiy is a very talented runner and a good friend of mine. I had a little extra in the tank, and I was able to come up with the win. This is a big deal for our team. We have been defending this title for a really long time now. A lot of this was done for our alumni, to show our respect.”
Knight, Kibichiy and Bennie were joined in the top five by NC State’s third-place George Parsons (22:58.3) and Florida State’s fourth-place Harry Mulenga (23:04.1).
The Notre Dame women placed three runners among the top 10 finishers, but NC State showed even greater strength in numbers with its five among the top 15.
In addition to Koon’s fourth-place finish, the Wolfpack receive a 10th-place showing from junior Wesley Frazier, 12th place from sophomore Alyssa Rudawsky, 13th from freshman Elly Henes and 14th from sophomore Ryen Frazier.
The ACC championship is the 22nd for the Wolfpack women and their first since 2006. It was the program’s second title under the watch of head coach Laurie Henes, a former NC State All-American who ran on four championship teams and was the ACC’s individual winner in 1991.
“I think our depth came through today and that was huge,” said Henes, whose squad currently ranks third nationally. “We had some young athletes that really stepped up. Rachel Koon and Alyssa Rudawsky have just continued to get better, and that saved us today.”
Henes found it ironic that senior standouts Megan Moye and Erika Kemp – while finishing a respectable 25th and 26th overall – did not figure in the Wolfpack’s final team scoring.
“I’m sure that is not how they wanted their senior ACC race to go, but they got their first team championship, and I know that means more to them than the individual race,” Henes said.
Notre Dame’s Rohrer, who placed second behind teammate Molly Seidel at the 2015 ACC Championships with a time of 20:08.3, outdistanced fellow sophomore Isabelle Kennedy of Boston College (19:51.7) by more than 25 seconds. Clemson’s Grace Barnett (20:00), NC State’s Koon (20:03.8) and Pitt’s Jillian Schriever (20:04.7) rounded out the top five.
The women’s race concluded with a tremendous show of sportsmanship after Boston College’s Madeline Adams stumbled near the finish line. Evie Tate of Clemson came to her assistance and was spotted by Louisville’s Rachel Pease as she struggled to help Adams to her feet.
Together, Pease and Tate pulled Adams up and helped her across the finish line, oblivious to the fact they would finish 127th and 128th in the 131-runner field. Tate was running among a pack of runners that finished between 70th and 80th place when she pulled up to help Adams. [Read More and Watch]
The top 21 finishers in both the men’s and women’s field earned All-ACC honors.