Norman, Okla. -- The eighth-ranked University of Oklahoma men’s cross country team took home a share of the NCAA Midwest Regional title Friday in Springfield, Mo., tying with in-state rival, No. 1 Oklahoma State. With the victory, OU earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships on Saturday, Nov. 17, in Louisville, Ky.
"I thought we ran a very disciplined race,” explained head coach Martin Smith. “It was a very positive sign that we held our composure in the latter stages of the race, and that enabled us to keep our split from one to six extremely tight.”
Hopefully this will be a very positive step heading into nationals, which gives us good team chemistry and confidence," Smith continued.
The share for the first-place finish was the first ever in Midwest Regional history, second in men’s regional action and fourth throughout the history of both men’s and women’s NCAA Regional roundups. Michigan and Wisconsin were the first two teams to share a title after they each finished with 68 points in the Great Lakes Regional in Bloomington, Ind., in 2007.
The Sooners and Cowboys each finished with 45 points to share the title. Tulsa (47), Illinois (154) and Missouri (173) finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, to round out the top five.
Patrick Casey placed third (30:28.61) overall to lead the Sooners to a fourth-straight NCAA Championship berth and second Midwest Regional title in the past three years. Kevin Williams crossed the finish line with a time of 30:29.25 to take fifth.
Senior Bill Kogel rounded out the top-10 with a 30:34.03 effort. Riley Masters followed right behind Kogel in 11th place with a time of 30:34.17. Andrew Weaver came in at 16th clocking a time of 30:45.96, followed by Ryan Poland who placed 17th with a time of 30:46.21. Brandon Doughty finished 39th crossing the line at 31:15.81.
Six Sooners earned All-Region honors in Casey, Williams, Kogel, Masters, Weaver and Poland. The honor is the fourth for Kogel in his career and the third for Williams.
Jessica Engel led the Oklahoma women with a time of 20:29.89. She placed fourth to earn an individual spot in the women’s NCAA Championship, in addition to All-Region honors.
“Obviously the main goal today was to qualify for nationals,” Engel explained. “I wanted to be in the mix up-front and make sure I kept myself in a position to qualify. I'm pleased with how I competed.”
Molly Ferguson was the next best finisher for the women, finishing 91st with a time of 22:38.66. Robin Ray rounded out the Crimson and Cream in 184th with a 24:23.80 effort.
Louisville will play host to the 2012 NCAA Championships Nov. 17. For the first time since World War II, The NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships will be held on a Saturday instead of a Monday - and for just the second time in a BIG EAST Conference City. With the new date formula prescribing the national meet be held on Saturday before Thanksgiving, and by virtue of the calendar having the earliest possible Thanksgiving this year, the meet will be the earliest in Division I history.
2012 Top-10 Midwest Region Men’s Team Finishes
1. Oklahoma 45
1. Oklahoma State 45
3. Tulsa 47
4. Illinois 154
5. Missouri 173
6. Kansas 194
7. Minnesota 221
8. Iowa St. 227
9. Southern Illinois 248
10. Loyola 326
Oklahoma Men’s Top Finishers
3. Patrick Casey 30:28.61
5. Kevin Williams 30:29.25
10. Bill Kogel 30:34.03
11. Riley Masters 30:34.17
16. Andrew Weaver 30:45.96
17. Ryan Poland 30:46.21
39. Brandon Doughty 31:15.81
Men’s Race Winner
1. Chris O’Hare, Tulsa 30:25.87
Oklahoma Men’s USTFCCCA All-Midwest Region Selections (Top 25 Finishers)
1. Patrick Casey (3rd) – first All-Midwest Region honor
2. Kevin Williams (5th) – third consecutive All-Midwest Region honors
3. Bill Kogel (10th) – fourth consecutive All-Midwest Region honor
4. Riley Master (11th) – first All-Midwest Region honor
5. Andrew Weaver (16th) – first All-Midwest Region honor
6. Ryan Poland (17th) – first All-Midwest Region honor
2012 Top-10 Midwest Region Women’s Team Finishes
1. Iowa State 63
2. Oklahoma State 95
3. Minnesota 96
4. Northwestern 204
5. Tulsa 218
6. Iowa 220
7. North Dakota St. 232
8. Illiniois St. 278
9. Illinois 292
10. Loyola 310
Oklahoma Women’s Finishers
4. Jessica Engel 20:29.89
91. Molly Ferguson 22:38.66
184. Robin Ray 24:23.80
Women’s Race Winner
1. Betsy Saina, Iowa State, 19:51.46
Oklahoma Women’s USTFCCCA All-Midwest Region Selections (Top 25 Finishers)
1. Jessica Engel (4th) – second consecutive All-Midwest Region honor