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Kurgat Advances to NCAA National XC Meet with Runner-Up Finish

November 13, 2015  Earlysville, Va.  RSS
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Ednah Kurgat advanced to the 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships with her regional runner-up finish on Friday.

Ednah Kurgat advanced to the 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships with her regional runner-up finish on Friday.

Ednah Kurgat's stellar freshman cross country season continued Friday afternoon at Panorama Farms, as her second-place finish in the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships women's 6K punched her ticket to the 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.

Kurgat, who clocked a time of 20:28.3 to trail only Coastal Carolina's Letitia Saayman (20:25.1), will become the third Lady Flame ever to race at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships and the first since Jennifer Klugh in 2012.

Like Klugh, Kurgat's NCAA national appearance will take place at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky. The women's 6K championship race is set for noon on Nov. 21.

Kurgat's performance helped the Lady Flames finish 19th at this meet for the second straight year, with 496 points. No. 6 Virginia won the women's team title on its home course with 53 points, defeating No. 8 NC State by 21 tallies.

Redshirt junior Jeremie Bourget came in 30th in the men's 10K, contributing to the Flames' 14th-place showing out of 32 squads. Liberty's team score of 380 enabled the Flames to improve one spot from the 2014 regional meet. Louisville was a surprise men's team champion with 77 points, defeating the defending champion, No. 12 Virginia (96 points).

Women's 6K Race Recap
Kurgat's runner-up finish was the best placement ever by a Lady Flame at this meet, surpassing the sixth-place efforts of both Heather Sagan (2001) and Klugh (2012). The native of Eldoret, Kenya finished 31 seconds in front of the next fastest freshman in Friday's race, eighth-place Rachel Koon of NC State.

Fellow freshman Anna Van Wyk made a late-race charge, passing 18 competitors during the final kilometer. As a result, she finished 82nd overall, including sixth among Big South entrants, in 22:49.4.

Junior Lindsey Bray stepped up as the Lady Flames' No. 3 runner, crossing the line in 23:32.7 for 138th place. That marked a 68-place improvement from Bray's finish at the 2014 regional meet.

Teammate Caroline Parris finished immediately behind Bray, closing out her collegiate career in 139th place with a 23:33.9 clocking.

Aryn Embretson wrapped up her promising freshman campaign as Liberty's fifth and final scorer. She ended up 151st in a time of 23:42.4.

Alyssa Karle (165th place, 23:58.0) and Kat Bouton (197th, 24:46.6) also competed for the Lady Flames on Friday.

Men's 10K Race Recap
Bourget's 30th-place finish in the field of 223 men's runners was the best regional showing of his career. The Canadian's time of 30:21.7 placed him third among Big South competitors.

Fellow redshirt junior Josh Showalter was the fifth-fastest Big South runner in Friday's 10K, coming in 58th in 31:05.8. It was a major improvement over Showalter's 105th place at the 2014 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships.

Azaria Kirwa was the 11th-fastest freshman in the men's race, crossing the finish line 68th overall in 31:19.6.

Sophomore Cameron Francis stepped up from 134th place in 2014 to 94th on Friday, thanks to his 31:49.0 clocking.

Graham Hansel, another sophomore, served as Liberty's No. 5 runner. He placed 138th with an official time of 32:38.9.

Freshmen Louis Paone (156th place, 32:57.9) and James Zentmeyer (186th, 34:06.9) each made their regional meet debuts on Friday for the Flames.