James Mwaura placed a school-best 36th and led Gonzaga to an improved men’s team finish at the 2021 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Florida.
The junior from Tacoma, a disappointing 225th in the pandemic-delayed 2020 championships in March, broke his program record for 10,000 meters with a time of 29 minutes, 29.2 seconds, earning Gonzaga’s first cross country All-America honor. The Bulldogs placed 26th; they were 27th in March.
Mwaura fell within the first 100 meters but rallied back to the front of the pack.
“He deserves to be All-American because he does everything,” GU coach Pat Tyson said in a school release. “He works hard, he’s focused. … I don’t think he’s really satisfied with his place today. … He was hoping, hoping for a top-10 finish, but hey, he struggled early, falling down, came back, and still made it. That is a feat in and of itself.”
Junior Kristen Garcia, in her third women’s championship and second for GU, placed 90th, timing 20:26.4 for 6,000 meters. She ran in the 2018 NCAA Championships for Wisconsin before transferring to GU and had been 129th in March.
Washington State’s Amir Ado, a junior from Ferris and the Cougars’ only entry, was 195th in the men’s race, clocking 31:06.3.
Gonzaga’s other men’s runners: Kyle Rodosvich, fr., 133, 30:28. Cullen McEachren, jr., 145, 30:33.7; Riley Moore, so., 179, 30:58.7; Jake Perrin, sr., 233, 32:02.9; Evan Bates, fr., 238, 32:32.3; Wil Smith (Lewis and Clark), fr., 241, 32:35.2.
BYU junior Conner Mantz repeated as men’s champion (28:33.1) and Northern Arizona won a second straight team title and fifth in the past six years. The women’s race was won by BYU senior Whittni Orton (19:25.4), with North Carolina State capturing its first team title.
The Washington women placed 11th and the Huskies men were 13th.
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