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Kurgat Ready for NCAA Women's 5K Final

June 9, 2016  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Ednah Kurgat will compete in the women's 5K at the 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships Saturday at 8:25 p.m. Eastern. The race will be televised live on ESPN.

Ednah Kurgat will compete in the women's 5K at the 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships Saturday at 8:25 p.m. Eastern. The race will be televised live on ESPN.

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Liberty sophomore Ednah Kurgat will make her debut at the 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Saturday, when she competes in the women's 5K at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Kurgat's race will begin at 8:25 p.m. Eastern Saturday evening and will be televised live on ESPN. It is the next-to-last event of the four-day meet, which gets started on Wednesday.

How to Keep Up with Kurgat
ESPN will provide live television coverage of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships from 6:30-9 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, including Kurgat's 5K race at 8:25. The race will also be streamed on the Watch ESPN app for mobile devices.

Live results, including lap-by-lap splits during the 5K, will be available throughout the meet, courtesy of Flash Results, Inc.

LibertyFlames.com will be on hand at Hayward Field, providing comprehensive race updates through the Liberty Gameday (@LUGameday) Twitter account.

Weather Report
Saturday's preliminary weather forecast for Eugene is pretty favorable for distance running. The temperature is expected to be in the mid to upper 60s under partly cloudy skies. There is also a slight chance of a rain shower.

About the Facility
Hayward Field, which first opened in 1919 as Oregon's football stadium, is one of the most storied track & field venues in the United States. The stadium, which boasts a permanent seating capacity of 10,500, hosted the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and is slated to do so once again next month.

The facility is playing host to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships for the fourth straight year, and is slated to continue hosting the event through 2021. Eugene will also host the 2021 IAAF World Championships at Hayward Field, which will mark the first time the event has ever been held in the United States.

Kurgat has stated that competing at Hayward Field for the first time will be a "dream."

NCAA Championship Event Capsule
Women's 5K
Event Schedule: Final – Saturday at 8:25 p.m. Eastern

Liberty Competitor: Ednah Kurgat (So., Eldoret, Kenya)

How She Got Here: Kurgat placed a close second to William & Mary's Regan Rome in her heat of the women's 5K, May 28 at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet in Jacksonville, Fla. That made Kurgat one of her heat's five automatic qualifiers to Eugene and the first Lady Flame ever to qualify for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the women's 5K. Her time of 16:12.71 was the seventh fastest among the two sections combined.

Season at a Glance: Saturday's race will be just the fourth of Kurgat's 2016 outdoor season.

Kurgat opened her year with a 5K at the Mt. SAC Relays, April 15 in Norwalk, Calif. Her time of 15:48.63 shattered both the Liberty and Big South Conference outdoor women's 5K records. Kurgat placed ninth in the race, including third among college entrants. The time ranks sixth in the NCAA this season, including fourth among women who will compete in Saturday's race.

Kurgat then became Liberty's first Big South 10K champion since 2011 on May 10 at Liberty's Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex. Competing in a unique combined men's/women's 10K final, Kurgat cruised to a time of 37:32.96, winning by more than 11 seconds.

Kurgat's third outdoor race was the aforementioned 5K at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet, which punched her ticket to Eugene.

Prior to her outdoor season, Kurgat enjoyed considerable success during the cross country and indoor track & field campaigns. Her first collegiate cross country season culminated with a 12th-place finish at the 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, Nov. 21 in Louisville, Ky. That performance made Kurgat Liberty's first-ever NCAA Division I women's cross country All-American.

Indoors, Kurgat earned second team All-America honors by placing ninth in the women's 5K at the 2016 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, March 11 in Birmingham, Ala.

Kurgat also improved upon her own Liberty and Big South indoor women's 5K records with her 15:47.89 effort at the Husky Classic, contested Feb. 12 in Seattle, Wash. Two weeks later, she swept the Big South women's mile (personal-best 4:50.82) and 3K (school-record 9:32.67) titles. Kurgat is a four-time Big South champion and eight-time All-Big South performer.

What is it about the West Coast?: Kurgat will be racing on the West Coast for the third time in her career, and both previous visits to the Pacific Time Zone have gone well.

Kurgat's West Coast debut came at the Feb. 12 Husky Classic, contested at Dempsey Indoor in Seattle, Wash. She placed fourth in the women's 5K in 15:47.89, lopping 40 seconds off of her own Liberty and Big South Conference records. The time stands as Kurgat's 5K personal best.

Kurgat traveled across the country once again on April 15 for the Mt. SAC Relays at Cerritos College Falcon Stadium in Norwalk, Calif. Her 15:48.63 clocking shattered the Liberty and Big South outdoor women's 5K records and placed her ninth in the race.

Third Time's the Charm?: Kurgat will hope for a smooth race on Saturday, after battling different forms of adversity during this year's NCAA cross country and indoor track championships.

Kurgat suffered a nasty fall during the final mile of her race at the 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, dropping her out of the lead pack.

At the 2016 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, Kurgat was one of several women's 5K runners who accidentally stopped one lap early. By the time Kurgat realized her mistake and resumed her race, she had lost several positions in the final standings.

A Look at the Competition: Notre Dame's Molly Seidel has finished first at both of Kurgat's NCAA races this year, including cross country and the indoor 5K. However, Seidel's 2016 outdoor season was halted prematurely due to injury.

Additionally, NCAA cross country runner-up Allie Ostrander of Boise State and indoor 5K runner-up Erin Finn of Michigan will also be absent from the starting line in Eugene.

In their absence, Arkansas senior Dominique Scott seems to be the pre-race favorite. She tops the 2016 NCAA list in both the 5K (15:25.10) and 10K (31:56.84). Scott was the 2015 NCAA indoor women's 3K champion. Since then, she has had several near misses. The South African was the 2015 NCAA outdoor 5K and 10K runner-up and placed third at the 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.

Scott will have plenty of motivation on Saturday, as Arkansas is expected to contend for the women's team national championship.

Scott captured the SEC 5K title last month. The runner-up in that race, Tennessee junior Chelsea Blaase, could be another contender on Saturday. She boasts personal-best times of 15:42.47 (5K) and 32:08.39 (10K) and finished third in the 5K at the 2016 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Stanford senior Aisling Cuffe is a bit of a wild card. She enjoyed a phenomenal 2014 season, clocking a 5K time of 15:11.13 and placing as both the NCAA indoor and outdoor 5K runner-up. However, Cuffe has battled injury and only run two 5Ks in the two years since.

Track & Field News predicts the runners to finish in the following order on Saturday: Scott, Kurgat, Blaase, Colorado sophomore Kaitlyn Benner, Cuffe.

Six competitors boast faster 5K personal-best times than Kurgat's 15:47.89, including Cuffe (15:11.13), Scott (15:25.10), New Mexico's Calli Thackery (15:37.44), Stanford's Vanessa Fraser (15:41.64), Blaase (15:42.47) and Penn State's Tessa Barrett (15:46.08).

If the pace dawdles, it could play to the favor of runners with fast 1,500-meter times. These are highlighted by Scott (4:12.16), Georgetown's Katrina Coogan (4:13.13) and Thackery (4:14.99).

Five runners will be coming off of Thursday's NCAA 10K final, including Scott, Blaase, Iona's Tara Jameson, Portland's Lauren LaRocco and Boise State's Brenna Peloquin.

Only four of the 24 runners return from the 5K at the 2015 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The returnees are Scott (second place), Thackery (sixth), Texas' Sandie Raines (12th) and Fraser (13th).

Kurgat, Blaase and Barrett are the only three runners who have qualified for the 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, as well as the 5K at both the 2016 NCAA Division I Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Kurgat is one of 11 freshmen and sophomores among the 24 entrants in Saturday's 5K.

Kurgat is among eight foreign-born competitors in Saturday's race, along with Eastern Michigan's Alsu Bogdanova (Kazan, Russia), Oklahoma State's Aurora Dybedokken (Asker, Norway), Temple's Blanca Fernandez (Leon, Spain), Lamar's Verity Ockenden (Shaftesbury, England), Jameson (Wicklow, Ireland), Scott (Capetown, South Africa) and Thackery (Yorkshire, England).

How the Event Will Progress in Eugene: The top eight finishers in Saturday's race will score points for their respective teams and earn first team All-America honors. Placers No. 9-16 will become second team All-Americans. The remainder of the women's 5K runners will depart Eugene as honorable mention All-Americans.

What's at Stake for Kurgat: Kurgat has already joined Heather Sagan (2001-02) as the only Lady Flame to advance to the NCAA Division I national championship meets in women's cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field during the same athletic year.

Kurgat will try to become the first Lady Flame ever to earn All-America honors in all three sports during the same year. She needs to place 16th or higher to do so.

If Kurgat finishes inside the top eight, she would score the Lady Flames' first points at this meet since 2002, when both Sagan (1,500) and Andrea Wildrick (pole vault) finished as national runners-up. Liberty totaled 16 points that season, tying for 15th place in the final team standings.

No Lady Flame has ever won a national title at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Sagan was the women's mile national champion at the 2002 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.