TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Aliphine Tuliamuk ran to the highest individual finish in Wichita State cross country history Monday, finishing 12th overall in the women’s 6,000-meter race at the 2011 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.
The Shocker junior also broke her own Wichita State 6K school record, finishing in 19:57.7 at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course. Tuliamuk’s personal best performance — and top-40 finish overall — awarded her all-America status for the second year in a row.
“I thought Aliphine had a really good race,” Wichita State head coach Kirk Hunter said. “Obviously we were hoping for a top-five finish, but you can go anywhere from first to 30th in a heartbeat. You just never know. I was really happy with her race.”
Villanova’s Sheila Reid won the women’s individual title, finishing in 19:41.2. Georgetown won the women’s team title with 162 points. On the men’s side, Arizona’s Lawi Lalang won the men’s 10K in 28:44.1. Wisconsin won the men’s team title with 97 points.
Monday marked Tuliamuk’s third appearance in the NCAA Championships, and her top finish in the race. She finished 68th in 2009 and 13th in 2010 while competing for Iowa State.
Temperatures in the high 40s to low 50s, a slight breeze, and damp conditions made for ideal running weather Monday and helped create a fast pace in the race.
Tuliamuk ran in the chase pack that followed the race’s leader over much of the course. The pack caught up to the leader with just over 1,000 meters remaining and runners sprinted in a tight group to the finish in the close race.
“That was one of the fastest times I’ve run,” Tuliamuk said of the fast pace. “The weather was good, not windy. Everyone wanted to win.”
The previous top finish for a Shocker cross country student-athlete in the NCAA Championships came in 2010 when Tonya Nero finished 16th overall.
Tuliamuk became the third Wichita State women’s cross country student-athlete to be named an all-American. Nero last season, and Desiraye Osburn in 2005, were the first two Shocker women to receive the honor in cross country.
“I am pleased with the time. I set a PR,” Tuliamuk said. “I wish I could have put more effort into the last 1K, but I was tired. I’m happy about my time, but not about my position.”
Tuliamuk’s finish Monday capped off a season full of accolades for the Kapenguria, Kenya native. She was named the U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association Midwest Region Women's Athlete of the Year, as voted by NCAA Division I coaches. She won the NCAA Midwest Regional women's 6,000-meter race in 20:40.68 Nov. 12.
She won the MVC women's title Oct. 30 on the same course as the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. She posted a winning 5K time of 17:16.6 to be named 2011 MVC Women's All-Conference Athlete of the Year.