NORMAN, Okla. – The University of Oklahoma men’s cross country team took home the title Saturday at the Missouri Southern Stampede in Joplin, Mo. The Oklahoma women’s team also had a successful day finishing third overall and second among division one schools.
In just his second appearance as associate head cross country coach, Jason Dunn has continued to move the program in a positive direction with the win in Missouri.
“It was nice to get the victory, for sure,” said Dunn. “For the first ever 8k for a lot of these guys, I thought they did a really nice job.
“I was definitely pleased with what I saw. It is still early and we are still evaluating, but they all ran really well, given it was the first race of the season for many of them. It was a really good start for all of them."
Ranked 10th in the region, the OU men placed four out of five runners in the top -10 en route to the first-place team finish.
Sophomore Eric Graf was the top finisher for the Sooners, placing third overall and clocking a time of 24:41.46. Kyle Polman was the second finisher for OU and fourth overall with a time of 24:56.06.
Dylan Blankenbaker raced to a fifth-place finish (25:08.70) with Will Hogston close behind in seventh (25:26.40). The men’s team rounded out its successful day with Daniel Aldaba finishing 12th (25:47.73).
“The women stepped up from the two mile to the 5k this week,” explained Dunn. “They handled it pretty well. We still have a long way to go, but it was definitely a solid result for us.”
The top finisher for the OU women in the 5k race was Kesley McKee who finished sixth overall with a time of 17:50.38. Elena Arriaza finished second for the Sooners and sixth overall, finishing in 18:00.46. The third top-10 finisher for the women was Jessica Hembree with the 10th place finish and a time of 18:17.75.
Lane Maguire finished 12th (18:44.17), followed by Marissa Codispodi in 13th (19:06.66), Ashley Guidot in 14th (19:14.95), Chloe Peek in 15th (19:51.53), Morgan Baulier in 16th (20:11.56) and Alysa Burchill in 17th (20:25.90).
The winner of the men’s race was Arkansas’ Stanley Kebenei with a time of 23:52.75. Rachel Baptista from Tulsa took the women’s race with a time of 17:02.13.
With the win, the men gain momentum going into their next meet on Sept. 28 when the team travels north to compete at the Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minn.
“This is certainly a direction that we want to be heading,” expressed Dunn. “It’ll be exciting for the guys that are racing next weekend. This is certainly a positive step forward.”