Defying thick mud on the course, the top-ranked women’s cross-country team took home its second consecutive NCAA championship in Terre Haute, Ind., on November 20. They tallied a team low score of 195 points, besting second-place finisher Colorado, which had 223 points.
“It was exciting because we were not only the defending champions, but we were also the favorite,” says redshirt junior Arianna Lambie, who again led the Cardinal women, this year finishing fourth in the 6,000-meter event with a time of 20:43.8. “We tried to think about it as a task that we were capable of doing, and we knew that each runner was feeling strong and had had a good season of training.”
The men’s team was anchored by redshirt junior Neftalem Araia, who took second place in the 10,000-meter race with a time of 30:52.6. The men collected a team score of 195 points, edging Oregon and Arkansas by one point to take fourth place in the meet.
“Nef wanted to win and gave it his all,” said head coach Peter Tegen, who received the appropriately named Peter Tegen Women’s Coach of the Year trophy. “Arianna ran a great race and looked very good. She looked flawless through nearly the whole race and just got caught at the end.”
Lambie says she learned a lot from being on the course for the second year in a row. “The leader [first-place finisher Sally Kipyego of Texas Tech] was out front by a lot, and there was a group of four of us, all working hard to figure out who was going to get second place,” she adds. “At the top of a hill, at a hard point in the race, I guess I pressed the pace just a little and the other girls fell back a little bit.” Lambie held her position until the final, quarter-mile straightaway. “It was mentally challenging, and I was really so happy to hold onto fourth place this year. I was eighth last year, so that was a really big accomplishment for me.”
Lambie returns next year as a co-terminal master’s degree student in earth systems, and ultimately hopes to work in the field of alternative energy development. With the wind at her back, she’ll also be chasing another NCAA team trophy.