Men finish sixth, women 15th at NCAA regional meet

Brian Thursby

Lizarribar qualifies for NCAA championship meet

The Kent State cross country team knew Bloomington, Ind., would be rough. They knew it would be hilly. They knew it would be crowded.

They also knew they had to end their season with a strong finish.

The Flashes finished their season with a sixth-place finish by the men and a fifteenth-place finish by the women at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Meet in Bloomington, Ind. Three Kent State runners were able to capture spots in the Top 25.

Junior Alex Lizarribar took home the best finish for the women at 10th place and a time of 21 minutes, 31 seconds. Last night, she received an at-large bid for the NCAA championship meet on Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.

Senior Aiman Scullion finished 12th on Saturday in 31:25, while junior Scott Hilditch crossed the line in 21st with a time of 31:35 in the men’s 10K race.

Kent State coach Mark Crogan said the quantity of runners and the terrain lead to a difficult race.

“When you have 30 teams out there (and) 200-plus runners,” Croghan said. “You’re going to have to deal with crowds and you’re going to have to get out well. The course itself was very challenging. It seems like you’re going up or down the entire way.”

Lizarribar said the number of runners led to some pushing early on in the race. At one point, the junior said she was even boxed in, but this didn’t stop her.

“It was definitely a lot of pushing,” Lizarribar said. “You have to fight for your position in a race this big.

“The course was definitely a tough course. It had rolling hills, a lot of rolling hills. It was tougher than you would assume. I don’t think I have ever raced with that many people. I got boxed in at first, but I tried to sit back and relax and not run a fast first mile. I did not want to die off at the end.”

Scullion said he avoided the congestion by breaking out early, and the hills did not affect his running.

“I just got out front right from the beginning, so I did not have to worry about people,” Scullion said. “There were guys who got caught in it, and I know one guy went down. To me it was not too bad.”

After the race, Lizarribar, who walked onto the team after the beginning of the season, said her tenth-place finish still seemed surreal.

“It’s all sinking in now today, compared to yesterday,” Lizarribar said. “Placing tenth in regionals out of tons of girls, I am pretty proud of myself. I was really nervous and trying to take it as any other race. I was pretty excited with how I did.”

After a successful season that included the men’s program’s first ever Mid-American Conference title, Croghan said he was proud of how both the men and women did and was proud of their achievement and growth.

“We have been specific with the way we have been running races,” Croghan said. “Both teams made sacrifices and put the work they had to. Both programs made steps forward this year. It was a very solid season on both sides. I am very happy and proud of the teams.”

Contact sports reporter Brian Thursby at [email protected]