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Cowboy Cross Country makes stellar late charge to win seventh-consecutive Big 12 Championship

Kirubel Erassa’s first individual conference title helped the Oklahoma State men’s cross country team record its seventh-consecutive Big 12 Championship in Lawrence, Kan., on Saturday.

Despite sitting in fourth at the halfway mark of the men’s 8K race, the Cowboys made a late charge to place seven runners in the top 12 and post a meet-leading team score of 27 points.

“I’m really happy for the guys,” head coach Dave Smith said. “David Osborn, who had never been in the top seven at Big 12 for us before, Kirubel [Erassa] and Shane Moskowitz carried the team for us.  With those guys who have paid their dues and put in the time over the years, it’s really good to see them shine, so I’m really proud of them. Overall, the whole group ran well.”

Erassa’s first-place time of 24:08.3 led the way, and was supported by several of Oklahoma State’s longest-tenured contenders, including juniors Fabian Clarkson (4th), Craig Nowak (9th) and Brian Gohlke (22nd), and seniors David Osborn (6th) and Shane Moskowitz (7th).

After finishing as the runner-up at last season’s conference meet, Erassa will head into regional and national competition as an individual Big 12 champion for the first time in his career. His first-place finish marks his second in as many appearances this season after recording the top time at the Cowboy Jamboree.

"Whenever we have a race like this, it always gives us confidence to do even better in the next race,” Erassa said.  “This race will show us how complete we are. We are happy to win our seventh-straight Big 12 title, and that means a lot for us. It really motivates us to keep going forward."

Smith’s lineup also displayed its depth with All-Big 12 performances from true freshman Cerake Geberkidane (11th) and newcomer Vegard Oelstad (12th). Redshirt freshmen Noah Gade and Luis Martinez also recorded strong individual performances, finishing 20th and 39th, respectively.  

“Cerake and Vegard were sixth and seventh, so they didn’t score for us, but they were right there and right in the mix,” Smith said. “I think Cerake has been a little dinged up and is really starting to get healthy, and in another three weeks, he might even be a little bit better. He and Vegard both have some improving to do, but they put in some good times.”

On the women’s side, Monika Juodeskaite continued her stellar senior campaign with a sixth-place time of 20:22.2, marking her fourth-consecutive All-Big 12 performance. As a team, the Cowgirls finished fourth behind sixth-ranked Iowa State, ninth-ranked West Virginia and No. 28 Baylor, posting a team score of 130 points.

Kristine Helle (22nd) and Caileigh Glenn (32nd) rounded out the top three for the Cowgirls, who also recorded top-50 times from Natalie BakerGintare ZenkeviciuteEmily Helms and true freshman Molly Sughroue. Baker’s mark of 21:33.1 helped the redshirt sophomore set a new personal best, improving her previous high by more than 20 seconds.

“Monika gave a great effort,” Smith said. “When you’re as talented of an athlete as she is, you want to go for it all. She may have gambled a little bit and cost herself a few spots, but she's a very competitive woman. The only outcome that would have satisfied her today would have been a Big 12 title.”

Oklahoma State cross country will return to action at the NCAA Midwest Regional on Nov. 14. For more updates and information, follow @Run4OKState on Twitter.

2014 Big 12 Cross Country Championships

Nov. 1, 2014 – Lawrence, Kan. – Rim Rock Farm

Men’s Team Results (8K)

1. Oklahoma State – 27

2. Oklahoma – 65

3. Iowa State – 80

4. Texas – 84

5. Kansas – 123

6. Baylor – 191

7. Texas Tech – 200

8. Kansas State – 250

9. TCU – 294

Men’s Individual Results (8K)

1. Kirubel Erassa – 24:08.3+

4. Fabian Clarkson – 24:15.6+

6. David Osborn – 24:24.3+

7. Shane Moskowitz – 24:24.9+

9. Craig Nowak – 24:28.0+

11. Cerake Geberkidane – 24:34.2+

12. Vegard Oelstad – 24:34.4+

20. Noah Gade – 24:49.4

22. Brian Gohlke – 24:51.6

39. Luis Martinez – 25:27.6

Women’s Team Results (6K)

1. Iowa State – 29

2. West Virginia – 58

3. Baylor – 70

4. Oklahoma State – 130

5. Oklahoma – 154

6. Kansas State – 159

7. Texas – 173

8. Kansas – 201

9. Texas Tech – 212

10. TCU – 311 

Women’s Individual Results (6K)

6. Monika Juodeskaite – 20:22.2+

22. Kristine Helle -21:11.6

32. Caileigh Glenn – 21:32.8

33. Natalie Baker – 21:33.1*           

38. Gintare Zenkeviciute – 21:42.3

41. Emily Helms – 21:46.4

43. Molly Sughroue – 21:50.7

52. Abbie Hetherington – 21:59.8

55. Aurora Dybedokken – 22:05.9

68. Janelle Martinez – 22:35.5

+ - All-Big 12 Performer

* - New personal best