East Tennessee State University junior Ben Varghese wrapped up his cross country season by competing at the NCAA Championships for the second straight year on Saturday afternoon from the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course.
Facing heavy rain and 35 degrees at start time, Varghese – who became the first Buccaneer runner to make back-to-back appearances in the national meet since Seamus Power did so from 1991-93 – finished 109th with a time of 32:02.4. Overall, the field featured 252 runners.
“Today was tough conditions to run a cross country race,” said head coach George Watts. “Although, it was not quite what he was hoping for, Ben was greatly improved from last year. I think Ben has learned more about himself this season than at any time during his career. Ben, along with the entire distance group, are about to make a big jump in their competitiveness and ultimately how fast they will run.”
Varghese, who qualified for his second straight championships after finishing fifth at last week’s NCAA South Regional, was 96th in the 3000m and was 99th at the midway point. Overall, Varghese improved on last year’s finish at the NCAA Championships where he came in 177th place.
Iowa State’s Edwin Kurgat won the individual title by finishing the 10K in 30:32.7, while Colorado’s Joe Klecker finished runner-up in 30:37.1.
BYU won the team championship as the third-ranked Cougars totaled 109 points, while top-ranked Northern Arizona finished second with 163 points. Third-ranked Colorado capped off the top-three with 164 points.