Arkansas, Villanova win cross country crowns


BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- The two races at the NCAA cross country championships yesterday at Lehigh University couldn't have been more different.

The men determined their pecking order in the first mile. Washington State's Josephat Kapkory bolted to the front and was never challenged, and Arkansas used pack tactics to claim its fourth consecutive team title.

Villanova made it five straight team and individual titles on the women's side, but two-time winner Carole Zajac waited until the second mile to break away from a crowded pack, and the Wildcats' 66-72 edge over Arkansas wasn't official until the video was reviewed.

Zajac, a senior from Pittsburgh who is the collegiate record-holder for 10,000 meters, joined former teammate Sonia TTC O'Sullivan as the only repeat women's champion in meet history. She finished 5,000 meters in 16 minutes, 40.1 seconds -- 4.1 seconds in front of sophomore teammate Jen Rhines.

Villanova has won 35 straight meets, but there were moments this fall when coach Marty Stern doubted it could add to the NCAA streak. The Wildcats had holes to fill, especially after Megan Flowers transferred to Arkansas, which they beat by seven points for last year's championship. Flowers was eighth overall and No. 2for Arkansas, which placed four in the top 14 but couldn't overcome Villanova's 1-2-7 strength up top. It was the Razorbacks' third straight runner-up finish.

"Everyone expected us not to do anything this year," Zajac said. "We lost a lot of seniors, and we had to rely on some 800 runners. We underestimated them, too, but after the first meet, we believed in them. This is like running in our own backyard, but there was a lot of pressure."

On a near-perfect day for trail racing, Kapkory covered 10,000 meters in 29:32.4. His lead over Arkansas sophomore Joseph Bunston shrank to eight seconds at the end, but it was 12 or 13 seconds for much of the race.

"I was 12th last year, and very disappointed," said Kapkory, 26, of Kenya. "This time, I decided to take it out and let them follow me."

No one stepped forward to challenge the Arkansas men, either, as they totaled 31 points, well ahead of Brigham Young's 153.

William & Mary's Matt Holthaus, a senior from Wilde Lake High whose specialty is the mile, was 113th in 31:47.3.

Stanford's Amanda White, a freshman from Dulaney High, sat out with a leg injury that started as a sprained ankle in September, developed into tendinitis in the knee and is now a stress fracture of the fibula.

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