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Ole Miss Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Both Finish 12th at NCAA Championships

STILLWATER, Okla. – Ole Miss men’s and women’s cross country completed an unprecedented and peculiar 2020 season in superb fashion, with both squads finishing 12th overall at the rescheduled 2020 NCAA Cross Country Championships at Oklahoma State on Monday.

 

Monday’s oddly timed national meet presented a daunting challenge for the Ole Miss distance runners, who recently wrapped up their indoor season and hadn’t run competitively outside since October. Additionally, five Rebels in competition on Monday had just run at the NCAA Indoor Championships over in Arkansas in the past 72 hours.

 

The Rebels faced that challenge head-on, though, with the Ole Miss women’s 12th-place finish registering as a massive program record – their third in a row at the national meet – and the men’s 12th-place slot standing as the second-best behind 2016’s fourth-place podium finish. With their performances on Monday, Ole Miss remains as one of just four programs nationwide to have placed both its men’s and women’s teams in the top-25 in each of the last five seasons alongside BYU, Colorado and Stanford.

 

“I’m super happy that our athletes were excited to compete in cross country even though we spent most of the semester focused on indoor track,” said associate head coach Ryan Vanhoy. “The fact that we were able to come out and perform the way we did in our only cross country meet of the spring season is something that we should all be very proud of.”

 

The No. 15 Rebel men finished 12th in the 10K at 373 points and were paced by two extraordinary All-American finishes from sophomore Cole Bullock (18th, 30:24.7) and junior Mario Garcia Romo (30th, 30:35.2). Those two helped lead the charge from wire-to-wire, pushing into the top-30 near the halfway mark. SEC runner-up Bullock was especially tenacious down the stretch, chasing down five spots over his final kilometer to help bring the men’s team back up to 12th place thanks in large part to his massive 3-minute, 54-second 10K PR.

 

“Cole ran a fantastic race the entire way, earning his first ever All-American finish,” Vanhoy said. “He’s had a great sophomore season and is continuing to establish himself as one of the top runners in the NCAA.”

 

Garcia Romo’s finish caps off a cross country season for the ages and adds upon what has been a spectacular 2020-21 school year. Bullock and Garcia Romo combined to become the seventh and eighth All-Americans in Ole Miss cross country history, marking just the second time multiple Rebels have done so in the same year and the first since 2016. For Garcia Romo, Monday’s race adds upon his resume as SEC Champion and SEC Runner of the Year, when he led Bullock and Suliman to the first 1-2-3 SEC sweep in program history back in October. Just this weekend, he concluded an indoor season in which he won two SEC titles (DMR, 3K) with an NCAA runner-up anchor leg on the DMR and a third-place finish in the 3K.

 

Suliman, who had earned All-America each of the past two years as the first Rebel to ever do so multiple times, was in contention for his third in a row before falling back to 50th overall at 31:01.6 – his third straight top-50 finish. Like Garcia Romo, Suliman has been a workhorse as of late, clocking two sub-4 miles at the NCAA Championships (in which he ultimately finished third), as well as a 3K in which he finished 15th.

 

“Huge credit to Mario and Waleed for giving everything they had for Ole Miss this weekend. I can’t say enough about how special those two guys are,” Vanhoy said. “They’ve been the cornerstone of our program all year and were both excited to do everything they could to compete in both indoor and cross country. After a busy weekend in Fayetteville they came out excited to run cross country for the team, which is a huge testament to the type of people they both are. What they’ve accomplished over the last four days is an amazing feat and very, very special.”

 

Other Rebel men in competition included Nick Moulai (165th, 32:22.9), Robinson Snider (171st, 32:25.7), Cade Bethmann (226th, 33:45.0) and Ben Savino (237th, 37:58.8).

 

The No. 26 Rebel women opened the day by beating out 13 teams ranked ahead of them with a 12th-place finish of their own with 325 total points in the 6K. Ole Miss was consistent through the first five kilometers, hanging in 17th place before an electric charge over the final 1K to jump up five spots and snag that program-record 12th place finish. The Rebel women finished with a tight scoring spread of 44.4 seconds.

 

Senior Anna Elkin was the top NCAA finisher for Ole Miss for a second straight year, leading a group of three Rebel women who all broke the school record for highest NCAA finish. Elkin was 49th at 21:03.7, making her the first Rebel woman to ever finish top-50 at the NCAA Championships. Not far behind her in 51st place was Rebel newcomer Sintayehu Vissa in her first cross country meet at Ole Miss at a huge 1-minute, 11-second PR of 21:04.6, and sophomore Loral Winn rounded out a strong Rebel lead pack in 60th place at 21:10.9. All three broke the previous record for highest individual finish of 62nd place set by Katie Breathitt in 2012.

 

Vissa and Winn were consistently picking up points for Ole Miss, with Vissa moving up an average of 22 spots each kilometer and Winn 19.2 spots each 1K. Both Vissa and Winn were also members alongside Maddie King on Ole Miss’ first-ever NCAA distance medley relay team that finished First-Team All-American in eighth place on Friday night.

 

Sophomore Skylar Boogerd claimed the largest 1K improvement, though, jumping up an absurd 41 spots on the final kilometer to help push the Rebels up five slots in the team score. Her time of 21:30.8 was good for 103rd, and other Rebels in competition included Victoria Simmons (145th, 21:48;1), Ryann Helmers (149th, 21:51.2) and King (160th, 21:55.5).

 

“I’m so proud of how our women competed today,” Vanhoy said. “That was, without question, the best team performance we’ve ever had at any meet, and to do that at an NCAA Championship makes it that much more special. We got out well and were right where we wanted to be the entire race. Every single girl laid it on the line the last 1K. I’m amazed at how they were able to compete.”

 

Women’s 6K Individual Scores

49 (39). Anna Elkin – 21:03.7

51 (40). Sintayehu Vissa – 21:04.6 (1:11 PR)

60 (49). Loral Winn – 21:10.9

103 (83). Skylar Boogerd – 21:30.8

145 (114). Victoria Simmons – 21:48.1

149 (118). Ryann Helmers – 21:51.2

160 (128). Maddie King – 21:55.5

 

Women’s 6K Team Results

1. #2 BYU – 96

2. #5 NC State – 161

3. #4 Stanford – 207

4. #7 Michigan State – 212

5. #11 Minnesota – 239

6. #3 New Mexico – 274

7. #6 Colorado – 279

8. #13 Alabama – 280

9. #10 Boise State – 304

10. #1 Arkansas – 316

11. #9 Northern Arizona – 318

12. #26 Ole Miss – 325

13. #12 Washington – 330

14. North Carolina – 354

15. #18 Florida State – 363

16. #22 Oregon State – 375

17. #8 Michigan – 400

18. #21 Georgetown – 494

19. #17 Indiana – 494

20. #15 Georgia Tech – 508

21. #16 Illinois – 521

22. #20 Portland – 522

23. Colorado State – 532

24. #22 Oklahoma State – 535

25. #24 Iowa State – 580

26. Liberty – 611

27. #19 Duke – 625

28. Tulsa – 650

29. #27 West Virginia – 668

30. #27 San Francisco – 688

31. #14 Furman – 761

 

Men’s 10K Individual Scores

18 (16). Cole Bullock – 30:24.7 (3:54 PR) – All-American

30 (27). Mario Garcia Romo – 30:35.2 (28-second PR) – All-American

50 (42). Waleed Suliman – 31:01.6

165 (141). Nick Moulai – 32:22.9 (1st career 10K)

171 (147). Robinson Snider – 32:25.7

226 (191). Cade Bethmann – 33:45.0

237 (201). Ben Savino – 37:58.8

 

Men’s 10K Team Results

1. #2 Northern Arizona – 60

2. #9 Notre Dame – 87

3. #6 Oklahoma State – 142

4. #3 Arkansas – 181

5. #4 Stanford – 194

6. #5 Tulsa – 237

7. #1 BYU – 254

8. #7 Iowa State – 265

9. #26 Southern Utah – 270

10. #12 Iona – 311

11. #21 Utah State – 351

12. #15 Ole Miss – 373

13. #22 Butler – 379

14. #8 Colorado – 398

15. #20 Wake Forest – 425

16. Duke – 462

17. #28 Michigan State – 463

18. #11 Wisconsin – 464

19. #19 Air Force – 464

20. Villanova – 468

21. #17 Portland – 472

22. Georgetown – 528

23. #13 NC State – 547

24. Furman – 560

25. #10 Washington – 568

26. #17 Indiana – 572

27. #14 Gonzaga – 591

28. #30 Charlotte – 634

29. #24 Purdue – 741

30. #25 Syracuse – 761

 

For more information on Ole Miss Track & Field and Cross Country, follow the Rebels on Twitter (@OleMissTrack), Facebook and Instagram.