Spartanburg, S.C. -
Led by a pair of dominant performances by Gilbert Kemboi and Joan Tangwar, the USC Upstate men's and women's cross country teams swept the races at the Upstate Invitational Saturday morning at Milliken Research Park.
Upstate used the races as a tune-up for the A-Sun Championships in two weeks in Nashville, Tenn., and did so in strong fashion. Both teams had the top five runners that counted in the team scores in each race to give the Spartans 15 points to run away with the team titles. Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) dominated the field and covered the 8k distance in a time of 25:33 to win the race by 1:02 over Daniel Smoak, who ran unattached. Tangwar (Eldoret, Kenya) also turned in a dominant performance, finishing the 5k race in 17:32 to finish eight seconds ahead of teammate and second-place finisher Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya).
In the women's race, Tangwar set the tone for the Spartans with her race win as Upstate sprinted off the line and took control of the race. Tangwar's win was her third of the season and gave the Spartans a sweep of individual titles this year with Jemeli Sang winning at Clemson. Tangwar, Sang and Carolyne Chelulei (Eldoret, Kenya) were never pressed in the race and came home with the top three positions. Sang ran in a time of 17:40, while Chelulei came in with her second-fastest time of the season with an effort of 18:00.
Jasmine Polite (Goose Creek, S.C.) finished fourth among the scores that counted for the team scores and fifth overall with a time of 20:02. It marked her second-fastest time of the season as well. Laura Transue was the fifth-fastest finisher for Upstate and the seventh overall after turning in a time of 20:41, her fastest time of the season, to give the Spartans the top five finishers for the team scores in the race.
Erin Gethin (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) turned in a time of 21:21, her second-fastest time of the year, to finish 12th in the team scoring and 14th overall, while Jaimie Page (Gladstone, Mo.) turned in her fastest time of the season with an effort of 22:06.
Upstate claimed the team title with 15 points and was followed by Wofford (85), Carson-Newman (87), Darton (97), Presbyterian College (113), Piedmont (145), Newberry (167) and Claflin (220).
On the men's side, Kemboi was the star of the show. His time of of 25:33 was his slowest of the season, but it was more than enough to win the race by a large 1:02 margin. It was his second win of the season. The Spartans also swept the first five positions in times which counted for the team scores.
Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) ran his second-fastest time of the season in finishing second in team scoring and third overall with a time of 26:48. Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) ran a time of 26:55 to finish third in the team scoring and fourth overall. Ross Oden (Salisbury, N.C.) finished fourth in the team scoring and fifth overall with a time of 27:01. Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.) was the fifth Spartan to finish, turning in a time of 27:12 to give the Spartans the top five finishers in the race.
Joey Daversa (Chesapeake, Va.) turned in a strong effort, finishing with a time of 27:33 to finish eighth, while James Jackson (Aiken, S.C.) was 10th with a time of 28:04. Upstate placed seven runners in the top 10 in a dominant team performance.
Upstate claimed the championship with 15 points and was followed by Darton (49), Newberry (112), Piedmont (119), Presbyterian College (128), Carson-Newman (133) and Claflin (195).
Upstate will now turn its attention to the 2011 A-Sun Cross Country Championships on Oct. 29 in Nashville. Kemboi is the reigning men's champion, while Tangwar, Sang and Chelulei return as all-conference performers as well.