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Kennedy Kithuka wins NCAA 10k cross country crown

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Texas Tech junior Kennedy Kithuka put on a show Saturday afternoon at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park on his way to capturing the NCAA Cross Country individual championship in a familiar dominant performance.

Kithuka, who entered the race unbeaten in 2012, broke the course record finishing first overall with a time of 28:31.3 in the 10,000-meter race to become Texas Tech’s first male NCAA Cross Country Champion in school history.

“Once the race started, I knew I was ready to go.” Kithuka said. “It was just a great race.”

With the performance, Kithuka becomes Tech’s sixth overall national champion in school history after becoming the first men’s Big 12 Champion in school history earlier this year.

“Kennedy ran a perfect race,” Texas Tech head cross country coach Jon Murray said. “There was a race plan and he executed it to perfection. He put the surges in at the right time and opened the race just past the halfway point. The rest of the race was just a continued effort and keeping the tempo up.”

On the largest stage of the season, Kithuka outlasted a pair of Arizona runners including defending national champion Lawi Lalang who entered the race undefeated during his decorated cross country career.

Kithuka took his lead at the midway point of the race moving in front of Lalang and fellow Arizona runner Stephen Sambu. Sambu finished second behind Kithuka with a time of 28:38.6 while Lalang finished third.

With 3,000-meters remaining in the race, Kithuka broke away from the pack for good, separating himself from both Sambu and Lalang on his way to the finish line.

“I am extremely proud of Kennedy,” Murray said. “He came into the meet as the underdog and left as the champion. He just did a fantastic job of representing Texas Tech.”

The national championship is Kithuka’s first of his career at the Division I level after capturing 10 in track and field and cross country at the NAIA level before transferring to Texas Tech.

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