Nov. 1, 2008
SAN DIEGO, Calif. -
University of Wyoming senior Mark Korir had one final chance winning the Mountain West Conference Cross Country Championship and on Saturday in San Diego he was not going to be denied. Korir bested the MWC field and was named Male Athlete of the Year for the first time in Wyoming history. He had been runner-up the past two seasons.
It was the fifth conference championship in Cowboy history and the third different athlete to do so. Korir's name can now be placed with that of the Cowboy greats; Simon Kilili, who won the WAC Championship in 1977 and John Wodny, who earned the WAC crown three times in 1986, 1987, and 1989.
"Mark is one of the best competitors that I have coached and I am so proud of him and his accomplishment today," said UW head coach Randy Cole. "He set himself up nicely throughout the entire race and really brought it home down the stretch."
Korir had an answer for every move that TCU junior Festus Kigen and BYU seniors Stephan Shay and Kyle Perry had when they tried to pull away. Korir made a crucial move with one turn left as he cut in front of Kigen and Shay and then out-kicked them down the stretch to finish the 8k race with a time of 24:22, beating Kigen by three seconds.
For the Cowboys as a team, they finished fifth out of six teams, trailing the fourth-place Colorado State Rams by only two points. The title went to the Cougars of BYU as they had six runners in the top-15.
The next to cross the finish line for the Pokes was sophomore Greg Miller in 28th-place with a time of 25:56. He was followed by Seth Grossman, Brett Schuler, and Michael Huntington in 30th, 32nd and 33rd respectively. Three freshman rounded out the field for the Cowboys, including Eliud Chirchir in 37th, Ryan Griesbach in 41st and Philemon Kimutai in 42nd. Griesbach was later named MWC Freshman of the Year for his efforts.
"It's a great start to what could be a very successful career here at UW," said Cole of Griesbach's honor. "He has a great work ethic and has been very consistent for us all season long."
As for the Cowgirls, they finished fifth out of nine teams and were led by junior Emily Higgins with her 15th-place finish and time in the 6k race of 22:13. Higgins was one spot away from being named to the second team All-Conference team for the second year.
Sophomore Alysha Davis was not far behind with her 17th-place finish and time of 22:20. Emily Byra and Erin Heffron finished 25th and 39th respectively for the Cowgirls. Irene Masai was next for the Cowgirls in 54th-place in a time of 24:01. Rounding out the field was senior Nikki Peterson and red-shirt freshman McKynzie Maher in 64th and 68th respectively.
"Overall the women ran pretty well and it's something we can build on for next year's Championship," said Cole. "Now we have to re-group and get ready for the Mountain Regional meet held in Fort Collins in two weeks."