LOUISVILLE — In an unusual collection of collegiate cross country teams, Louisville and Kentucky each got thumbs up from their coaches Saturday.
U of L's men dominated, and the Lady Cardinals placed third in the eighth annual Greater Louisville Classic.
UK placed second in both divisions — behind the U of L men and Purdue women — at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park.
"On the women's side, those ladies went out there, and they competed very hard," UK Coach John Mortimer said. "I challenged them a little bit as a coach to see what they had as athletes, and we had maybe five of the top 10 at the mile. ... Ultimately, some of them faded a little bit, but I'll take an athlete that goes out on a limb rather than an athlete that's afraid to do so."
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More than 75 colleges and 1,400 athletes from 16 states were represented. They came from all three NCAA divisions, the NAIA and National Junior College Athletic Association. Thirty-eight teams came in ranked nationally or, at the least, regionally.
So vast was the field that the race was split into divisions — the higher-seeded Gold and the lesser Blue.
Louisville's men, led by a 5-6-8 (9 overall) finish by Matt Bruce, defending champion Cory Thorne and Michael Eaton, scored 68 points to win the Gold team title.
UK, paced by Adam Henken and Luis Orta in 11th and 14th (12 and 17 overall), upended Tennessee for second place, 153-188. The top five Wildcats are represented by a junior and four sophomores.
Freshman Camille Buscomb placed fifth to lead Purdue's women to Gold honors with 88 points.
Another freshman, Cally Macumber, took 12th to lead a closely bunched pack of Wildcats to 130 points. UK also won the Blue Division title. Eight of the top 10 Wildcats are freshmen.
U of L totaled 141, getting a second-place finish from Tarah McKay and a seventh from Woodford County High graduate Kim Grieshaber.
"We practice on this course a great deal," said Brice Allen, coach of the Cardinals. "This is a deceptively difficult course, so the athletes are going to take the first mile a little more conservative than they will on other courses that we run. There's a good-sized hill in the first mile, so the men are taking it probably 90 percent, as are the women."
A pair of Africans snared individual honors.
Stephen Sambu, the defending national junior college champion for Rend Lake (Ill.), pulled away with a 4:40 third mile and won the men's 5,000-meter race in 23:33.22.
He led a 1-2-3 Kenyan sweep, trailed by Carison Kemei of McKendree College (23:47.78) and 2007 NCAA steeplechase champion Barnabas Kirui of Mississippi (23:52.42).
"My plan was to go with the guys for the first two miles and then, the last three miles, I'll go all out," said Sambu, whose hometown is Eldoret, the same as Kemei and former U of L standout Wesley Korir.
Western Kentucky senior Janet Jesang, out of Kampala, Uganda, defended her meet title in 16:47.97 to knock five seconds off the course record. U of L's McKay, finishing second for the third year in a row after winning in 2006, crossed the line in 17:02.57.
"Yes, I had the record in my mind today because last year I tied it," Jesang said. "I'm happy, even though it's not as fast as I expected. Still, it's a good time. It's my PR (personal record), and it's a course record."
McKay, a senior from Ontario, Canada, has been U of L's top finisher in every race of her cross country career.
"Yeah, but my teammates are getting closer," she said. "It's a good thing if it's red that passes me, so I'm really looking forward to how the team's progressing."
Gold Division teams — Purdue 88; Kentucky 130; Louisville 141; Missouri 173; Western Ky. 173; Vanderbilt 179; Central Mich. 208; Eastern Ky. 208; Washington (Mo.) 290; Southern Ind. 295; Davidson 360; Miss. St. 379; Middle Tenn. 386; Belmont 426; Elon 430; Ga. State 497; Rend Lake (Ill.) 533; Findlay 538; Bellarmine 551; Oakland 570; Lipscomb 571; Ole Miss 587; Ark. State 600; Lewis 646; Northern Ky. 652; Southeast Mo. 657; Shorter 686; Detroit Mercy 716; Ark.-Little Rock 721; Cornerstone 756; Seton Hill 816; Lee 853; Morehead St. 965; Augusta St. 1,002; East Tenn. St. 1,158.
Top Gold individuals (5,000 meters) — Janet Jesang (WKU) 16:47.97 (course record); Tarah McKay (Lvl.) 17:02.57; Justyna Mudy (Shorter) 17:09.48; Marion Kandie (WKU) 17:21.56; Camille Buscomb (Purdue) 17:23.56; Janel Blancett (Ga. St.) 17:24.24; Kim Grieshaber (Lvl.) 17:27.57; Bailey Belvis (Mo.) 17:34.63; Brittany Thune (Belmont) 17:39.52; Kristin Phillips (Purdue) 17:41.84.
Top Blue Division teams — 1. UK 75; 2. Lindenwood 114. Also: 7. Bellarmine 233; 10. Cumberlands 287; 15. Centre 371; 20. Lindsey Wilson 516; 21. Campbellsville 541; 23. Georgetown 564; 24. Thomas More 565; 26. Transylvania 605; 28. Berea 735; 30. Ky. State 890; 32. Asbury 974; 33. Spalding 1,013; 34. Pikeville 1,038; 35. Midway 1,065.
Top Blue individuals — Francine Nzilampa (Lndnwd) 18:01.65; Jessica Neville (Queens-Charlotte) 18:31.90.
Gold Division teams — Louisville 68; Kentucky 153; Tennessee 188; Central Mich. 205; Middle Tenn. 251; Davidson 259; Queens (N.C.) 260; Eastern Ky. 274; Rend Lake (Ill.) 284; Purdue 288; Southern Ind. 345; Oakland 350; Ark.-Little Rock 363; Miss. St. 413; Belmont 435; East Tenn. St. 514; Washington (Mo.) 520; Western Ky. 543; McKendree 567; Cornerstone 616; Detroit Mercy 629; Bellarmine 635; Lipscomb 664; Southeast Mo. 667; Bryan 671; Elon 681; Ole Miss 717; Ga. State 728; Centre 753; Vanderbilt 771; Shorter 796; Northern Ky. 797; Morehead St. 848; Ark. State 876; Findlay 880; Lee 898; Wheeling Jesuit 1,024; Seton Hill 1,107.
Top Gold individuals (5,000 meters) — Stephen Ssambu (Rend Lk) 23:33.22; Carison Kemei (McKendree) 23:47.78; Barnabas Kirui (Ole Miss) 23:52.42; Mike Crouch (Queens) 23:55.14; Matt Bruce (Lvl.) 24:02.80; Cory Thorne (Lvl.) 24:07.32; Joseph Maina (unattached) 24:10.87; Dy Tuach (Rend Lk) 24:13.91; Michael Eaton (Lvl.) 24:18.43; Festus Chemaio (Middle Tenn.) 24:20.48.
Top Blue Division teams — 1. Lindenwood 61; 2. Mercer 151. Also: 10. Berea 315; 13. Cumberlands 337; 15. Bellarmine 395; 17. Campbellsville 420; 20. Ky. Wesleyan 459; 21. Georgetown 469; 23. Asbury 653; 26. Lindsey Wilson 761; 29. Centre 831; 30. Transylvania 933; 32. Ky. St. 971; 33. Pikeville 1,055.
Top Blue individuals — Mustapha Habbani (Lndnwd) 25:33.33; Will Rover (UK) 25:51.10.