OSU opens renovated course with NCAA regional

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Oklahoma State debuts its renovated course at the NCAA Cross Country Midwest Regional on Nov. 15.

After a $4 million renovation, the Oklahoma State men's and women's cross country teams christened their home course with an NCAA championship regional meet on Friday. 

Thirty-five women's and 27 men's teams from across the midwest competed for a shot to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championship in Terra Haute, Indiana, on Nov. 22.

The top two teams from each race received automatic bids to the championship, while there were 13 at-large bids spread across the nine regionals. 

The women started off the day with a 6K race. The Cowgirls were favored to do well in the event as they are ranked No. 25 in the country.

OSU had strong starts from junior Taylor Somers and sophomore Molly Born, but the Cowgirls were behind at sixth place after the first two kilometers of the race. 

Somers and Born helped the Cowgirls push closer to a top position, but it wasn't enough.

Somers finished second with a time of 20:28 and Born finished sixth with a time of 20:41. As a team, the Cowgirls finished fourth behind Illinois, Tulsa and Minnesota. 

While the Cowgirls likely did not qualify for the team championship, Somers qualified for the individuals. 

OSU director of cross country Dave Smith said he was proud of Somers' performance.

"She's one that's come in and really worked hard and progressed," Smith said. "She had a great progression her entire career, so really proud of her. She's a great leader for our team."

In the men's 10K race, the Cowboys had a great start, but it all fell apart at the end. 

At the five kilometer mark, OSU had three of the top five runners. However, it was between a large group of runners with first through 15th place being within one second of one another. 

From theron, runners started to break through. Tulsa dominated the race with four of its seven runners finishing in the top 10.

OSU put on a good performance, but not one that it hoped for. Junior Ryan Smeeton was the first Cowboy to cross the finish line and finished 15th place with a time of 31:15.9. 

Adam Dayani and Alex Maier finished 19th and 30th place, respectively.

OSU's men's team has been plagued with injuries and it showed. Some of its best runners chose to compete while injured. 

"It was a perfect storm of injuries and set backs that kinda hit us this year, and we're gonna have to regroup and figure this out and get our team back to where it used to be for next year." Smith said.

There's already a light to look forward to next year and it's that OSU will host the NCAA championship next year. If both teams can regroup like Smith said, they could be running for a championship in front of their home crowd next year.

"Coach (Mike) Holder made a major investment in this course, in this facility and wanted to make it the best in the world," Smith said. "I think we accomplished that. I think there's not anything like it. I'm happy the NCAA recognizes that and awarded us with the bid. I think we'll do an outstanding job, and hopefully host more of them."

sports.ed@ocolly.com