The city of Raleigh is once again celebrating this year after an injury-depleted NC State women’s cross country team pulled off a shocking victory at the NCAA DI National Championships today, Saturday, November 18.
No. 2 ranked NC State captured its third successive National Championship on the grass with 123 points, one point less than No. 1 Northern Arizona, which finished with 124 points for second place.
NC State, the reigning back-to-back defending champion entering the championship this weekend, was without the injured Kelsey Chmiel, who developed a lower leg injury after the ACC Conference championships and wasn’t able to race here today.
Chmiel, who was seen celebrating with her team on crutches after the race, has been the No. 2 runner all season for the Wolfpack.
The team knew someone else had to step up in her absence.
They all did.
“I told them don’t change anything without Kelsey,” said NC State head coach Laurie Henes. “We are not going to change the way we run. Everyone stuck to their race plan.”
Defending national individual champion Katelyn Tuohy, although not at her best, wasn’t able to repeat that feat this season.
However, she rallied the Pack with a fifth-place finish in the women’s 6k, clocking in at a quality time of 19:23 for fifth place.
Behind her were several super contributors.
Amaris Tyynismaa (25th), at 19:55.3, Samantha Bush (28th) with 20:00.7, freshmen Leah Stephens (43rd) with 20:08.2, and Grace Hartman (63rd) at 20:24.4, all scored and their final spots were enough to secure a one-point victory over the nationally No. 1 ranked team in the country.
Notably, Bush, who was determined to contribute significantly here today, improved her position by 14 places in the last kilometer to finish in the top 30.
“There have been just so much adversity in the past few weeks and we talk a lot about being able to manage your emotions and the stress at this time of the season,” added Henes.
“They just did it remarkably today and I am overwhelmed with the people that came out here and had amazing races today.”
No. 1 Northern Arizona finished second in the team standings, followed by No. 4 Oklahoma State with 156 points, No. 7 Notre Dame with 237, and No. 8 Florida with 268 — completing the top five.
Meanwhile, Florida’s Parker Valby, last year’s runner-up, wasn’t going to be denied this year as she once again went out hard midway through the 6k race to dominate the field.
Her winning time today was 18:55.2, which was 10.6 seconds ahead of Alabama’s Doris Lemngole (19:05.8).
Notre Dame’s Olivia Markezich finished third with 19:10.0, followed by Hilda Olemomoi of Alabama (19:22.1) and Tuohy (19:23.0) in the top five.