Sports


Stanford's Korolev wins West Regional, Cardinal place third

 

Stanford's Maksim Korolev did the unthinkable, beating reigning NCAA and Pac-12 champ Edward Cheserek of Oregon to win the NCAA West Regional cross country championship at Stanford Golf Course on Friday.

Korolev's victory broke Cheserek's seven-race winning streak.

"I didn't have a great day at Pac-12s," Korolev said. "So, going in there, I didn't have much expectations. But I knew I had a good kick, I just didn't know how it stacked up against Ches."

Granted, the top runners played it conservatively to save themselves for the NCAA Championships on Nov. 22, but the victory was significant nonetheless for Korolev, who won the NCAA Northeast Regional last season while completing his undergraduate work at Harvard.

Korolev, a graduate student in management science and engineering, has only one season at Stanford, but he made it count on his 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) home course.

With about 800 meters left, the top runners broke ahead of a pack that had remained together through a slow race.

With 200 meters to go, Korolev bolted into the lead and both he and Cheserek appeared to grind hard down the stretch before the Oregon runner slowed at the end when he realized he would not catch Korolev.

The winning time was 29:33.5 to Cheserek's 29:35.0. The Oregon sophomore will be the overwhelming favorite in Terre Haute, but Korolev, who was third at NCAA's last year and earned a big win against top competition at the Wisconsin Invitational this season, will be a top contender.

"Of course, he wants to win," Korolev said. "But the real race is in a week. That's what I'm looking forward to."

This is the eighth Regional title by a Stanford male and the first since Chris Derrick in 2009.

Both the Stanford men and women placed third -- only the top two teams qualify automatically -- and will require at-large invitations to nationals.

Those calls should come Saturday, when the NCAA committee meets. Stanford undoubtedly will send both teams to nationals for the 21st consecutive year.

Stanford freshman Elise Cranny ran tough against two reigning NCAA track champions -- Arizona State's Shelby Houlihan (1,500) and Boise State's Emma Bates (10,000). The two pulled away late over the 6K (3.73-mile) course from Cranny, who finished third.

Houlihan won in 19:31.6, the second-fastest in course history, trailing only the 19:29.3 of Stanford's Arianna Lambie in winning the 2005 regional.

Bates ran 19:34.2 for the No. 3 time and Cranny clocked 19:45.6 in her first home meet (she did not run the Stanford Invitational), for the No. 4 all-time course effort.

"They're just really good competitors and they went out really strong today and I wasn't expecting the pace to go out that hard," Cranny said. "I wanted to try to stay with them. I was going to try to hang off the back as long as I could. I wish I had a little bit more at the end.

Cranny was second to Houlihan at Pac-12's and has raced her three times without a victory, and Bates has beaten her twice in as many tries.

Cranny understands the value of their experience and accomplishments, but still believes she can beat them.

"I'm trying to stay there longer and longer each time," she said. "But each time they break me a little bit. I'm a little frustrated."

Oregon won both races. The Duck men scored 60, with Portland second (71) and Stanford next with 97.

For the women, Oregon scored 88, to 103 for both Stanford and Boise State. The tiebreaker was head-to-head between each team's top five runners -- for instance, 1 vs. 1 and 2 vs. 2. Boise won those matchups 3-2, with the decider coming at No. 5, with Boise's Sarah Hastings finishing 38th to Stanford's Abbie McNulty in 53rd.

Seven Stanford runners earned All-Region honors by placing among the top 25: Korolev, Joe Rosa in sixth, and Michael Atchoo in 21st for the men. Also, Cranny, Molly McNamara in 10th, Sophie Chase in 16th and Emma Fisher in 21st.

— Stanford Athletics

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