WACO, Texas – Texas Tech cross country completed a strong showing at the Big 12 Championships Saturday. Both groups finished fifth, with the men earning a top-five individual performance.
“What a strong performance by both teams,” said head coach Jon Murray.
The Red Raiders were paced by Takieddine Hedeilli, who crossed in 23:52.7 to place fifth overall. The graduate transfer jostled for position amongst a strong chase pack, holding third place for two kilometers before settling for fifth. His finish earned him an All-Big 12 nod. Nearly placing top-15 as well was Cornelius Kiprotich, who PR’d with a 24:14.4 to finish 18th. As expected, the duo of Hedeilli and Kiprotich was followed by Nathan Gift, who continued his stellar senior season with a collegiate-best 24:55.9.
Also scoring for Tech were: Luke Estes (54th place), Grant LaSelle (55th), Richard Taylor (60th) and Eric Maclean (63rd). Taylor and Maclean turned in PRs with respective times of 25:59.2 and 26:06.3. Though he did not score, Bennett Barnett PR’d with a 26:21.8.
“The men had great leading by Taki, and the rest of the team came through on the performance,” Murray said. “It is exciting to beat teams, and even more so when done by a close margin.”
The men edged Kansas State by just three points, beating them 147-150.
The women’s team’s fifth-place finish was a huge step in the right direction for the program, which continues to grow. It was the highest finish for the Lady Raiders since the women placed fifth in 2011. Leading the women there was Seselia Dala, who crossed in an 11th-place 21:00.2 to earn All-Big 12 distinction for the first time in her career.
Fifth place was also made possible by Claudrice McKoy, who, as Murray hoped she would, broke out for a personal best. She finished 33rd with her PR 21:47.9. Following her was Nokuthula Dlamini (37th place) and Binta Ka (43rd). Jazmyn Martinez rounded out the top-50 with a 50th-place 22:15.7. Ka’s 22:11.2 also counted as a PR.
“The women’s team had their steady and reliable leader Sese come through with the all-conference performance,” Murray said of his Lady Raiders. “Nikki had some difficulties, but the rest of the team made up the difference. This was a solid performance for the team.”
The final two scorers for the women were Sydney White (60th place) and Bret Leigh Nance (61st).
Next for an excited Tech team is the NCAA Mountain Region Championships, which are to be run Nov. 15 in Salt Lake City, Utah.