Now you see her. Now you don’t.
For her latest trick, UAA running sensation Caroline Kurgat won her sixth national championship with a punishing finish that turned a close race into no contest.
Kurgat repeated as the NCAA Division II champion in the 10,000 meters Thursday night in Kingsville, Texas. She had company through the first 20 laps and then ran away from Mount Olive junior Leah Hanle in the final 2,000 meters.
Kurgat finished in 36 minutes, 34.31 seconds, recording her five fastest splits in her final five laps to win by more than 45 seconds.
“She was in total control,” UAA coach Michael Friess said by text. “She’s a special athlete.”
Kurgat and Hanle were neck-and-neck through 8,000 meters. Then Kurgat all but vanished from her opponent’s sight — she ran the next three laps in 1:19.66, 1:17.88 and 1:18.70 to build a lead of nearly 30 seconds going into the final 800 meters.
She ran the final two laps in an impressive 2:41.18 to complete her six-pack of national titles.
Kurgat, a senior from El Doret, Kenya, will go for a seventh title Saturday in the 5,000 meters, where she is the defending national champion. No UAA athlete has won more national titles than Kurgat.
In other action Thursday, UAA runners Edwin Kangogo and Wesley Kirui each finished fourth in their respective heats to advance to the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Kangogo posted the fourth-fastest time (9:14.55) and Kirui had the ninth-fastest (9:16.27). Also advancing, with the third-best qualifying time of 9:13.01, was Kenai Central graduate Jonah Theisen, a senior at Black Hills State.
Chrisalyn Johnson finished 19th in the long jump for the Seawolves, while Nancy Jeptoo and Vanessa Aniteye failed to advance in the 1,500 and 400, respectively. Action continues Friday and Saturday.