Ednah Kurgat became Liberty's first NCAA Division I All-American in women's cross country on Saturday, placing 12th at the 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. (Photo by Kyle Terwillegar/USTFCCCA)
Liberty freshman Ednah Kurgat made program history with her 12th-place finish in the women's 6K at Saturday afternoon's 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park. She became the Lady Flames' first-ever NCAA Division I women's cross country All-American while clocking a program-record time of 20:06.7.
Kurgat, just the third Lady Flame ever to qualify for the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, ran inside the top 10 nearly the entire way on a breezy day in Louisville. The native of Eldoret, Kenya ended up 12th overall and fifth among freshmen in the field of 254 competitors, edging Josh McDougal (13th place in the 2004 men's race) for the highest placement ever by a Liberty freshman at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.
Despite falling during the race, Kurgat was able to improve significantly upon her own Liberty women's 6K cross country record time of 20:22.0. That mark was recorded during her last visit to Louisville, in the Oct. 17 Pre-Nationals black race.
Kurgat got the better of Big South rival Letitia Saayman of Coastal Carolina for the first time this season. Saayman, the Big South and NCAA Division I Southeast Regional champion, came in 18th to earn All-America recognition of her own.
Prior to Kurgat's performance on Saturday, the highest finish by a Lady Flame at this meet had been 59th, by Heather Sagan in 2000.
Up front, Notre Dame's Molly Seidel was the individual national champion in 19:28.6, outdistancing Boise State freshman Allie Ostrander by five seconds.
New Mexico earned a dominating national championship, placing five runners inside the top 24 for a score of 49. Colorado placed second with 129.