Cross Country: Ayabei still shines in current season

Mal Hartigan

Senior Cosmas Ayabei became the first runner in UMKC history to qualify for the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships, and hasn’t slowed down since.

Ayabei finished 2nd in the 8k race at the NCAA Pre-Nationals Invitational on Saturday in Louiville, Ky.

Ayabei’s time, 24:08, was his fastest of the season and the 2nd-best 8k time in team history. He now holds six of the top 10 times for the 8k in school history.

He finished behind Joseph Chebet of Western Kentucky, who finished in 23:56.7.

Overall, the men finished 16th of 24 teams with 391 points while the women finished 23rd of 26 teams with 577 points. In the women’s race, senior Sarah Meiners led the Roos by finishing 20th with a time of 21:51.6.

Ayabei’s success has been consistent this season. He finished 2nd in the Sept. 28 Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind., in the 8k. Ayabei’s 2nd-place finish among 143 runners earned him the Summit League Male Cross Country Athlete of the Week Award, the third of his career.

Ayabei also finished 1st in the 8k Richard Clark Invitational on Sept. 15, with a time of 25:18.

The male Roos have achieved strong team finishes with Ayabei’s contributions, placing 2nd overall in each of the first two meets and 6th at the Notre Dame Invitational.

The team’s Midwest Region Ranking increased to 14th on Oct. 1, up from the Sept. 1 ranking of 15th.

The Roos will next travel to Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. to compete in The Summit League Championships on Saturday, Oct. 27.

How cross country works

Cross country is an individual and a team sport. Each team may enter a maximum of seven runners in each competition, but most competitions only score the top five runners’ results.

A runner’s final placement generates points: 1st place receives one point, 2nd place receives two points and so on. The top five runners’ rankings are added together to determine the team’s overall score. Fewer points result in a better team score.

Men typically race an 8k (five mile) or 10k (6.2 mile) course, while women may run a 5k (3.1 mile) or 6k (3.7 mile) course. The course’s terrain varies with each competition, but runners may encounter several hills and cross through wooded areas.

The courses are clearly marked, usually with colored flags, to guide runners so they do not get lost or make an incorrect turn.

An official indicates when the race begins, and runners can be disqualified for crossing the starting line too early.

The course pathway is narrowed several feet before the finish line to keep runners in a single-file line in the order they finish. This assures accurate scoring. Officials also disclose the runner’s personal finish time.

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