On a cloudy day in Louisville’s Tom Sawyer Park, the University of Oregon student surged away from Australia’s Patrick Tiernan on an undulating portion of the course with two kilometres remaining to win his third US collegiate cross-country title.
Over a course measured at 10 kilometres, Cheserek stopped the clock at 28:46 with Tiernan, a student at the University of Villanova where the men’s cross-country team is led by Irish middle distance-running great Marcus O’Sullivan, second in 29:12.
Tiernan lost a lot of ground on Cheserek in the closing stages but he wasn’t in any serious danger of losing the runner-up spot.
Pierce Murphy finished third in 29:37 while Canada's Justyn Knight, a lowly 143rd 12 months ago, finished fourth and led Syracuse – who had three finishers inside the top-10 – to the team title by nine points ahead of two-time reigning champions Colorado.
While distance-running legends Steve Prefontaine, Henry Rono and Gerry Lindgren can match Cheserek’s title haul, none of them were able to win their titles in consecutive years.
Also notably, Cheserek’s winning margin of 26 seconds is the fifth biggest in event history.
In the women’s race, Molly Seidel added the cross-country title to the NCAA 10,000m title which she won on the track this summer.
The Notre Dame student won a competitive race over six kilometres in 19:29, winning by five seconds ahead of Allie Ostrander, a first-year student at Boise State University.
While the men’s team race was very much in the balance until the late stages, the University of New Mexico took a dominant win in the women’s team race with their four scoring runners all placing inside the top 20.