Lobos Claim 11th-Straight Top-10 Finish in the NCAA DI Cross Country Championships
STILLWATER, Okla. — The University of New Mexico women’s cross country season looked different than it has in years past due to the postponement of fall sports in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the women continued their tradition of excellence, claiming sixth place at the NCAA DI Cross Country Championships with a total of 274 points. The sixth-place finish serves as the 11th-straight top-10 finish for the Lobos in the NCAA Championships. Three Lobos earned All-American honors on the day in Adva Cohen, Gracelyn Larkin, and men’s qualifier Abdirizak Ibrahim, who finished in 35th place.
Similarly, the Lobos have the fifth-longest consecutive NCAA qualifying streak (13) in NCAA Cross Country Championship history. The women’s team is no stranger to streaks, as they won their 13th-straight Mountain West title a week before this race, the longest winning-streak in Mountain West History in any sport.
“The women went in with confidence and put everything on the line, but it was not our day,” said head coach Joe Franklin. “We ran well, and we ran very hard. We a lot of respect for the competition, but I didn’t give enough respect to the course and that’s on me. The women did everything we told them to, and they did exceptionally well.”
Crossing the line first for the Lobos was senior Adva Cohen, finishing the race in the 22nd spot, the best finish for the senior at the National Championships. In the last 2000m of the race, the senior kicked it, passing 10 runners along the way.
Finishing in second place for the Lobos was Gracelyn Larkin, who had an incredible second half of the race, finishing in 25th place overall. The sophomore from Rosseau, Ont. improved 25 spots after the 2000m mark, finishing the race at a National Championship-best time of 10:41.8.
For their efforts in the race, both Cohen and Larkin have been named Cross Country All-Americans.
“It is an amazing accomplishment for Adva and Gracelyn to be All-American runners. It’s a tribute to the women who have made this program what it is – an All-American program,” said Franklin.
The three remaining point-earners for the Lobos made their National Championship appearance in the race. Finishing in 58th place was sophomore Amelia Mazza-Downie, adding 47 points to the Lobo tally. In 116th place was freshman Semira Mebrahtu Firezghi at a time of 21:38.4 (93 points). Redshirt-freshman Elise Thorner rounded out the point-earners with a 121st place finish, adding 95 points overall.
Senior Annamaria Kostarellis and freshman Andrea Modin Engesaeth finished the race in 144th and 177th place, respectively.
“Our goal every season is get to the starting line and know that we have a chance at the championship. And today, we did that. It just wasn’t our day.”
The lone Lobo running in the Men’s Championship was Abdirizak Ibrahim. The sophomore from Amarillo, Texas, had an impressive outing, finishing in 35th place overall. Ibrahim consistently improved through the entire race, passing 94 in total from the 2000m split to the finish line.
“Abdi (Abdirizak) is the first All-American in a long time, since Luke Caldwell in 2013,” said Franklin. “He did phenomenal today. He started slow but moved his way up the whole race.”
The 35th place finish is the best finish by any New Mexico runner on the men’s team in the National Championships since Luke Caldwell placed 10th in 2013. This was the first National appearance for the sophomore, earning a spot on the All-American list.
“To be All-American in your first year is a great accomplishment.”
The Lobos will head home to recover before most runners join the track and field team in their efforts for the 2020-21 outdoor season.