Tide Cross Country Is Third In Nation

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – On a Monday afternoon at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course located at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center, the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships took place. The No. 3 Alabama men's squad took home third place – the highest finish in school history.

"I'm real proud of the effort," Alabama cross country coach Joe Walker said. "You can see that the guys really bought into that idea of putting team ahead of the individual efforts. We ran a very smart race. We were seventh at 3k, fifth at 5k and third at 8k so it shows the group did a great job of moving through the field and putting us into position to finish top three."

It was an unusual warm day in Terre Haute, Ind. this year where the weather typically hovers in the 30s as opposed to the high 50s like today. The warm weather more than likely played to the Crimson Tide's favor.

"We felt right at home in that climate," Walker said. "I overheard Sam Chelanga (individual champion) say he felt like it was a blessing that we were going to be given such a great day to race to compete on and make it a fair race for everyone involved. I really agreed with that. It's still all about what you're used to and what you train in and we were able to compete in 50 degree temperatures today."

Alabama had three athletes earn All-American on Monday, clearly marking this the best performance by an Alabama team since they first appeared at the meet in 1970. In the history of Alabama, there have been only six runners to earn All-American accolades – eight total honors as Tim Broe and David Kimani earned the status twice. Only in 1999 did the Tide have more than one athlete earn All-American (Broe, Chris Mutai). The last Alabama runner to earn All-American was Augustus Maiyo in 2007.

A three-time All-American on the track, senior Tyson David led the third-ranked Alabama team with his 22nd place finish. David earned All-American honors, setting a new cross country personal best time by over 30 seconds with a mark of 30:03.7 over the 10,000 meter course. Following closely, senior Emmanuel Bor (25th) and sophomore Moses Kiptoo (26th) crossed the line with times of 30:05.8 and 30:08.6, respectively, to earn the title of All-American as well. The time is a new personal best for Bor.

Junior Fred Samoei just missed being named All-American by finishing 45th, just less than four seconds and five spots away from the top 40, which earns the honor. Samoei posted a time of 30:25.2. Rounding out the top five for the Tide was junior Julius Bor who crossed with a finish of 92nd place and a time of 30:50.9.

The final two finishers for Alabama were juniors Andrew Kirwa (118th) and Jeff Palmer (242nd) who posted times of 31:05.7 and 33:25.5, respectively.

"When I met with Coach Walker three years ago, this was our dream and vision of what this program should be about," head track and field coach Harvey Glance said. "We felt good as the race progressed. The thing I like about this is that we finished the race. I like the way we finished as a team this year. Coach Walker did a good job of preparing these guys, their legs were fresh, they looked sharp."

It was a day of upsets and surprises in the team scoring, No. 2 Oklahoma State claimed the 2009 NCAA Championship with 127 points. The defending champions, No. 8 Oregon, brought home the runner-up trophy with 143 points. No. 3 Alabama turned in its highest finish in school history placing third as a team tallying 173 points. No. 13 Northern Arizona and No. 7 William & Mary rounded out the top five teams.

This is the third consecutive year Alabama has finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships. The Crimson Tide's previous best finish was sixth in 2007 and placed 10th in 2008.

"It's a history making event," Glance said. "These athletes are phenomenal and it will take these type of athletes to make this happen year in, year out. They work really hard and are very dedicated. This is why we get into coaching. It's a great moment for Alabama cross country and Alabama athletics. I'm just glad to be a part of it."

The overwhelming favorite No. 1 Stanford men, who had been undefeated all season, finished a surprising 10th despite a third place finish by the individual favorite to win, sophomore Chris Derrick. Stanford has finished second in four of the past six years.

Samuel Chelanga of Liberty claimed the individual title smashing the course record of 2008 NCAA Champion and U.S. Olympian Galen Rupp of Oregon by 22 seconds.

Thirty-one teams were selected to participate in the championship. Alabama defeated all but two.

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