Nov. 20, 2006
By Brett Hess
Special to CSTV.com
"I'm used to running alone, pushing myself to the finish," Kipyego said moments after winning the NCAA Division I Women's Cross Country Championships. "I knew I had to keep going. It was a good day for me."
And it was a good day for Stanford, which successfully defended it's team title. The Cardinal again outlasted runner-up
The Cardinal learned all about pushing themselves this fall. Stanford coach Peter Tegen had talked all season about how it's harder to successfully defend a title than win the first time. His preaching paid dividends.
"That's the tough part," Tegen said of coaching. "On paper you might come in No. 1, or No. 2 or whatever, but it all goes out the window when the gun goes off."
Because his team came in as favorites, Tegen had a very simple message for his runners.
"I told them we didn't need any heroic efforts," Tegen said. "We just needed everyone to do their job, run good races."
And that's what happened. It truly was nothing heroic. In fact, the Cardinals' winning score (195 points) was easily the highest point total in the event's 26-year history. It broke the record of 146 points, set last year by, of course, the Cardinal.
"I don't think this is anything we want to brag about," Tegen said, laughing. "You do what you have to do and I guess we did. We didn't dominate today, but then we didn't have to. It was a tough race on a tough course."
The course was very muddy, which was an equalizer, said Tegen.
"We love this course," Tegen said. "It made the women's scores closer, of course. But, we weren't worried about running in these conditions. Our regional meet in
Kipyego, the first-ever Kenyan born Division I women's cross country champion, completed a perfect season. But she wasn't merely unbeaten, she was unchallenged. Kipyego won her meets by an average of 35 seconds. Monday, her winning margin was 26 seconds. She finished the 6 kilometer course in 20 minutes, 11 seconds. Runner-up Jenny Barringer of
Barringer broke away from a deep chase pack over the final half-mile. Lindsay Donaldson of Yale (20:42), Arianna Lambie of Stanford (20:43) and Julia Lucas of
Still, winning the national title by such a margin was a surprise to Kipyego.
"I thought maybe I'd have someone to run with," Kipyego said. "At the mile, it was good to see (
Kipyego opened a 10-second lead by the two-mile mark and then led by 25 seconds at the 3-kilometer (1.9 mile) mark, or halfway point. From there, it was just another race. But it wasn't without some fatigue.
Kipyego's first mile of 4:56 was a little fast for her coach, Jon Murray, but he could hardly argue with the results.
"I told her that the only mistake she could make was to go out too fast,"
But again, said
"I suppose she was prepared for the last mile or so,"