Knight and Kibioywo Finish as Runners-Up at Pre-Nationals
Oct. 18, 2008
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Auburn's Holly Knight and Felix Kibioywo each captured runner-up honors Saturday at the prestigious Pre-National meet in Terre Haute, Ind. The Tiger men, ranked 16th nationally, had three runners finish among the top 20 en route to a fourth-place team finish with 194 points. The women placed 18th with 498 points.
"Holly got on the pace of the lead pack early," head coach Peter Watson said. "She is a runner that doesn't drop off the lead pack because she is so strong. Holly took a huge step forward today with the top runners in the country. She runs well beyond her years. She believes in herself and was able to get in lead pack and held on for second place. As a team, obviously we wanted something better, but we ran solid today and finished in the top half of the bunch.
"As for the men, the reason we were so successful today was Felix," Watson said. "We wanted him to help get Girma [Mecheso] around the course. Girma, he just kept hanging in there step-by-step with Felix. Girma being able to finish fifth as a true freshman at Pre-Nationals is unbelievable. Elkanah [Kibet] got out in a hot, early pace and he fought to stay in position and he still finished 11th. Felix did a great job; he told everyone to be patient and not to press.
"My guys, they nailed it today and I was happy with them. The vibe is good and we're feeling great. We are thrilled with how today went for us."
Washington tallied 36 points to claim the Women's Blue title in a race that featured 41 teams, totaling 278 individuals. On the men's side, Stanford won the team title with 77 points, while Iona (123) and BYU (154) were second and third, respectively. There were 267 runners representing 40 teams.
Knight edged Washington's Kendra Schaaf 20:13.4 to 20:14.7 to finish as the Blue Race runner-up. North Carolina's Brianna Felnagle won the race in 20:02.4.
Knight improved upon her performance at the Tiger Invitational on Oct. 4. Facing a highly regarded Washington team, the sophomore Tiger finished fourth behind Schaaf and a pair of other Huskies. It was Knight who was able to take the upper hand Saturday by beating all three of the Washington runners across the line.
"I was in the lead of the chasing pack and I closed in on Kendra and was able to hold on to finish second," Knight said. "I think two weeks ago I was caught in the middle and I ran the whole race by myself. This week I was in better position and I was able to pass people. I think I am a better longer distance runner with the 6K compared to the 5K.
"This definitely gives me motivation to get back here for NCAAs," Knight explained. "I really like the course. Running well today gives me the motivation. I was able to see the course and that will help if I qualify for nationals."
The fourth Tiger across the line was Sabrina Fischer, coming across the line 112th in 21:58.7. Becca Bell was the 201st runner to finish in 22:49.6, followed by Allison Smith at in 23:29.4 for a 241st finish. Cathryn Albright rounded out Auburn's efforts, finishing in 278th in 26:14.2.
The potent men's trio of Kibioywo, Mecheso and Kibet all placed among the top 20. Kibioywo, who ran the same course a year ago at the NCAA Championships, led the way for the Tigers with a runner-up performance. Kibioywo finished the 8K course in 23:35.50 and was 44 seconds behind the individual champion, Samuel Chelanga of Liberty. Mecheso was only two seconds behind Kibioywo in fifth place at 23:37.50. Just outside of the top 10 was Kibet with an 11th-place finish, crossing the line in 23:46.20.
Scott Novack was the fourth Tiger to finish, taking 58th place in 24:30.10. Auburn's final two runners, Julian Matthews (118) and Joby Peake (158), completed the course in 25:03.20 and 25:28.20, respectively.
Postseason action is up next for Auburn's cross country teams, as the Tigers will travel to Starkville, Miss., for the Southeastern Conference Championship on Nov. 3.
More Auburn Football Headlines
More Auburn Headlines