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NC State Teammates Celebrate Successful Defense Of Their Team Victory

(Kirby Lee / Image Of Sport) 


Wolfpack Successfully Defends; Tuohy Individual Titleist


November 19, 2022
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, Oklahoma

As the cross-country season was winding down, NC State Cross Country Coach Laurie Henes and her athletes were quietly building confidence and managing stress. They arrived at Stillwater with the unannounced goal of successfully defending their team title while creating an opportunity for their star athlete Katelyn Tuohy to win the individual crown.

When race day dawned, the weather conditions at Greiner Family OSU Cross Country Course featured bright sky, a gentle breeze, and sub-freezing temperatures on the rise. When the race got underway 250+ of the best collegiate athletes bolted to capture key racing positions. In the opening kilometer, Alabama followed by NC State and Stanford grabbed the early lead. Shortly thereafter, University of Florida sophomore Parker Valby, not surprisingly, stormed into the lead and quickly started to pull away from the rest of the field. At 2K, reached in 6:45, Valby, runner-up in the NCAA outdoor 5000m and victor of both the SEC XC Championship and South Regional this year, had stretched her lead to 15 meters ahead of the chase pack which featured NC State, headed by Tuohy, with Alabama and UNC close behind.

Valby, now clearly committed to her plan to steal the race, hit 4K in 12:57 and extended her lead to a whopping 60 meters over Tuohy and the 20-some athletes around her. Also at 4 kilos, Alabama unseated NC State and took over the team race lead. Would this prove to be the end of NC State's grand plan? Nope. Passing the 4K mark, Tuohy broke away from the chase pack in her quest to hunt down the frontrunning Valby. At 4.9K, the NC State leader was closing fast and had cut the Gator's lead to 6 seconds. As the duo was climbing the final slope, Tuohy roared past Valby who had no response, With a quick right turn onto the final 200 meter downhill, Tuohy sprinted on for the victory, crossing in 19:27.7. The new national champion was followed by Valby in 19:30.9. Finishing 3rd was Tuohy's teammate Kelsey Chmiel (19:37.1) (who earned 2 points since the Gator was a non-scoring individual competitor).

Aided by the 1-2 finish in the team race, NC State (1-2-13-24-74 = 114) successfully defended its team title. New Mexico grabbed 2nd (20-23-32-32-34 = 140) while Alabama (5-8-12-14-127 = 166) finished 3rd. The performances in the women's race were absolutely stunning. How deep was this field? The course record of 20:01 was destroyed as 19 women posted times under 20 minutes.

In the mixed zone, the new champion shared her thoughts. "It feels pretty good," declared Tuohy about her individual win. "Honestly, I am more excited for the team and for going back-to-back. I turned around and saw Kelsey so that was really exciting. I'm super happy right now." Tuohy, whose win here completed her undefeated season, commented on her race strategy. "I thought I had executed the plan pretty well: if Parker went out hard, don't go with her, but work with the group to catch her. The gap got a little bigger than I thought it would. So around 3K I decided to pick it up and use that diagonal, flat segment to make my surge. I caught her off the turn on the last hill and just tried to bring it home from there." When did she think she could catch Valby? "Around 5K, I was like 'Alright, it's another 3 minutes of running. You can do it.' I knew I could finish that last 200 pretty hard." Given the undefeated seasons for Tuohy, the undefeated season for her team, and the successful defense of the team title, could this season have been any better? "I don't think so," admitted Tuohy. "I'm undefeated. A couple of us had setbacks. But we were able to come up on top when we needed to."

Later, Coach Henes offered her perspective. "Obviously when you walk away with the individual title and the team title, that's a very good day," understated the 2021 USTFCCCA Women's Coach of the Year. "Just like any season, there've been some ups and downs. I don't think we really nailed it team-wise in any races. And even here, I think what we are preaching is that things don't have to be perfect to come away with the result you want. If things are good, you keep working with that. You don't have to have perfection to pull it off. And we didn't necessarily have that today." And with a smile, Henes offered, "When you score 1 and 2 in the team race, that leaves you with a lot of room to have some things happen behind them," Dave Hunter

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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