The University of Oklahoma cross country teams completed another historic season in 2011. The men's team recorded its highest ranking ever at No. 3 in the country and placed sixth at the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships. The OU women's team ranked in the top 12 of the Midwest Region for seven weeks, ranking as high as No. 9.
"I was extremely excited about the total body of work the team put together this year," said Oklahoma head coach Martin Smith. "The men finished second at the Big 12 Championships, our highest finish ever, second at the regional meet and then sixth at nationals. We now have a different level of expectation for our program. We've consistently finished in the top nine at the national meet the last two years, and I think that shows our team has arrived. We believe this is the level we belong at."
The Oklahoma men began the season ranked No. 6 nationally by the U.S. Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), but aggressively moved up the polls throughout the regular season to No. 3 as they posted a second-place finish at the Hurricane Festival, a first-place finish at the Lehigh Brooks Paul Short Run and a third-place finish at the Chile Pepper Festival.
At the Big 12 Championships, the OU men placed second, a best for the Sooners at the meet. A total of six Sooners claimed All-Big 12 honors in College Station.
Oklahoma continued its pace in the NCAA Midwest Regional as the Sooners placed second, just three points behind then-No. 1 Oklahoma State. All seven of Oklahoma's runners placed inside the top 25, earning All-Regional honors. Kevin Schwab placed second overall for the second consecutive year to lead the Sooners to a third-straight NCAA Championship berth.
Bill Kogel earned Oklahoma's sixth All-America honor, leading the Sooners to their second-best finish in program history at the 2011 NCAA Division I Cross Country National Championships.
"We added another All-American this year in Bill Kogel," Smith added. "We're proud that we've had two All-Americans two straight years now [Kevin Schwab in 2010]. Bill ran an exceptionally strong race at nationals. We've established ourselves as one of the premier programs in the country, and it's time to take the next step and earn a trophy at the national meet."
The Sooner women concluded their season at the NCAA Midwest Regional with a strong performance by Jessica Engel, who automatically qualified as an individual for the Women's NCAA Championship.
"We're really excited about the impressive year Jessica had," Smith said. "She took another step forward this year and continues to evolve into being one of the best runners in the Big 12. We're excited about the future of our women's team. We made some positive steps forward this year and look to do the same next year."
Fourteen Sooners were named to the Academic All-Big 12 team. Eleven Sooners earned first-team honors with sophomore Hilary Krein and senior Jeremy Sudbury honored as two of 10 student-athletes with a 4.0 grade point average. Sudbury was joined on the men's team by George Alex, Eric Harasyn, Frezer Legesse, Daniel Nicolls, Ryan Poland and Schwab.
On the women's side, Krein was joined by Kelsey Brown, Natalie Crain, Engel, Molly Ferguson, Annie Martin and Kelly Waters.
Hurricane Cross Country Festival
The Oklahoma men's and women's cross country teams opened the season at the Hurricane Cross Country Festival Sept. 3, finishing second in the men's division and fourth in the women's division.
The then-No. 6 ranked men placed three runners in the top five, led by Taylor Wardall who finished the four-mile course in third place with a time of 20 minutes, 27 seconds. Legesse was close behind in fourth (21:30), followed by Nicolls in fifth (20:31), Poland in 14th (21:30), Malcolm Wankel in 16th (21:43) and Ross Larimer in 19th (21:55).
The top finisher for the Oklahoma women on the two-mile course was Ferguson, who crossed the line in 18th with a time of 12 minutes, 36 seconds. Brown placed 19th with a time of 12:36, followed by Martin in 20th (12:37), Caitlin Maggio in 37th (15:49), Juliann Jantz in 38th (15:56), Jazmin Scott in 39th (15:58), and Kelley Raines in 40th (16:10).
Roy Griak Invitational
The Oklahoma women's team traveled north to Minneapolis, Minn., where it finished 19th at the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 24.
Engel made her 2011 season debut at the meet and was OU's top finisher, placing 12th (21:02). Engel was followed by Waters, who finished 111th (22:26), Ferguson in 115th (22:33), Martin in 124th (22:39), Crain in 129th (22:44), Brown and Krein also finished in the top 140 of the 250-plus participants.
Lehigh Brooks Paul Short Run
The then-No. 4 nationally ranked Oklahoma men's team won the Lehigh Brooks Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Pa., on Sept. 30. The win was OU's first since capturing the 2010 NCAA Regional title.
Oklahoma competed on the eight kilometer course against 45 teams, including seven that were ranked in the top 25 of the national rankings.
Oklahoma was led by Sudbury who finished second with a time of 24 minutes, 12 seconds. Sudbury was one of three Sooners who finished in the top five. George Alex placed third (24:13) and Kogel finished fourth (24:13).
Chile Pepper Festival
The Oklahoma men's cross country team finished third and the women's team placed ninth at the 2011 Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival in Fayetteville, Ark., on Oct. 15.
Oklahoma was led by Aaron Sherf, who finished 24th in 30:20.2 in the men's race. Engel led the women's team finishing in eighth place (20:27.9).
Harasyn finished just behind Sherf in 25th (30:20.5).Legesse placed 28th (30:25.5). Poland competed in his second meet of the year, placing 46th (30:53.0) and Nicolls rounded out the Sooner finishers, clocking a time of 31:18.5 in 67th place.
Ferguson was the second finisher for the Sooner women as she crossed the finish line in 57th place (21:59.9). She was followed by Waters in 61st (22:03.3), Krein in 65th (22:07.8), Crain in 66th (22:08.1), Brown in 132nd (23:10.5) and Martin in 135th (23:11.4).
Big 12 Championships
The then-No.5 ranked Oklahoma men's team finished second at the 2011 Big 12 Cross Country Championships, a best for the Sooners at the meet. OU's women also improved on their finish from last year, placing eighth.
Oklahoma's top five scorers crossed the line in the top 11, earning 43 points to finish just behind winner Oklahoma State (30). The finish snapped a two-year third-place streak for the Sooners. OU improved by 18 points from 2010 when the team finished with 61 points.
The Sooners were led by Kogel, who finished in sixth place with a time of 23 minutes, 36.7 seconds. Sudbury finished in seventh, just 12 seconds behind Kogel, with a time of 23:48.9. He was followed by Schwab in ninth with a time of 23:57.8, Alex placed 10th with a time of 24:00.1, Kevin Williams placed 11th with a time of 24:04.9 and Harasyn rounded out the squad, placing 13th with a time of 24:08.4.
The Oklahoma women recorded their highest finish since taking sixth in 2007, earning 189 points. Engel paced the Sooners on the 6,000-meter course, finishing fifth with a time of 19:47.1.
Engel earned the first All-Big 12 honor of her career and became just the fifth All-Big 12 performer for the Sooners.
NCAA Midwest Regional
The Oklahoma men's team finished second at the NCAA Midwest Regional in DeKalb, Ill. on Nov. 12. The second place finish helped earn the team an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Oklahoma finished just three points behind in-state rival and top-ranked Oklahoma State. The Sooners finished with 45 points and Oklahoma State had 42 points.
Schwab placed second overall for a second consecutive year to lead the Sooners to a third-straight NCAA Championship berth. Schwab crossed the finish line with a time of 31 minutes, 22.10 seconds. Kogel was the next best finisher for Oklahoma, finishing ninth with a time of 31:27.91. Sudbury came in 10th, clocking a time of 31:33.34, followed by Alex, who placed 11th with a time of 31:33.86 and Williams finished 13th with a time of 31:37.09.
Harasyn finished 14th with a time of 31:37.24 and Sherf placed 21st, clocking a time of 31:44.56. All seven of Oklahoma's runners placed inside the top 25, earning All-Regional honors. The honor was the fourth for Schwab, third for Kogel and the second for Williams and Alex.
The Sooner women finished 10th with 297 points, two spots higher than their regional ranking heading into the event.
Engel led the Oklahoma women with a time of 21:04.33, placing fifth and earning an individual spot in the women's NCAA Championship.
NCAA Cross Country Championships
The Sooner men's cross country team finished in the top 10 for the second consecutive year, placing sixth at the 2011 NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 21 at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course. Junior Kogel earned his first All-America honor with a 29th-place finish.
The Sooners (213 points) placed just outside of the top five by 14 seconds and were 10 points outside of fourth, behind fifth-place Stanford (207) and fourth-place BYU (203). Wisconsin (97) won the national championship, with Oklahoma State (139) finishing second and Colorado (144) in third.
Kogel led the Sooners, placing 29th with a time of 29 minutes, 58 seconds. The junior finished 33 spots ahead of last year's placing. Schwab finished second among the Oklahoma runners, placing 42nd overall, with a time of 30:17. Williams placed 53rd with a time of 30:25 and Alex finished 60th, clocking a time of 30:28. Harasyn rounded out the Sooners' top five, crossing the finish line in 95th with a time of 30:46.
Engel qualified as an individual for the championships as she placed 86th with a time of 20:54.
Oklahoma finished second among Big 12 teams in the meet with Texas finishing 11th and Texas A&M finishing 18th. The Sooners' top five runners placed among the top 13 conference runners.