2009 Cross Country Season in Review

Dec. 9, 2009

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The 2009 Cross Country season has come to a close with the conclusion of the NCAA Championships.  Hosted once again by Indiana State University, The Big Ten Conference was well represented individually and team-oriented, highlighted by a winning effort by Illinois' Angela Bizzarri.

An eight-time All-American, Bizzarri captured the championship crown by smashing her previous personal-best set at last year's NCAA Championships by 13 seconds, finishing the six-kilometer race with a time of 19:46. The individual title marked the second top finish for the senior Illini in less than six months after capturing the 5,000 meter title at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June. Bizzarri used a late kick to win the race by nearly five seconds and became the first Illinois women's cross country runner to ever win an NCAA cross country title, and the first Illini cross country champion since Craig Virgin took accomplished the feat in 1975. For her efforts, Bizzarri was named USTFCCCA National Cross Country Athlete of the Year and the 2009-10 Honda Sports Award recipient for Cross Country.

Also placing in the top-10 in the women's division was Minnesota's Megan Duwell who posted a seventh-place finish on the strength of a 20:06.9 effort. The Gopher senior led her team to a 10th-place finish to lead all conference teams in the overall standings. Joining Bizzarri and Duwell among this year's distinguished All-Americans were Michigan's Kaitlyn Peale and 2009 Big Ten Champion and Athlete of the Year Bridget Franek of Penn State.

On the men's side, Wisconsin led all conference teams with a seventh-place finish. The Badgers placed four harriers in the top 40 percent of individual competitors and were led by freshman Mohammed Ahmed in 26th place. Big Ten  Champion and Athlete of the Year Hassan Mead led the conference contingent among individual competitors, completing the 10-kilometer course in 29:51 to finish in 14th place. For their efforts, Ahmed and Mead earned All-America honors along with Ohio State's Jeff See by virtue of their top-40 finishes at this year's championship event.