SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Freshman Ezra Mutai earned American International's first-ever NCAA Division II Men's Cross Country Championship, breaking away from the pack in the final kilometer of the race to win the 10-kilometer run in a time of 29:31.2 at the Arcade Creek Cross Country Course on Saturday, November 23.
Mutai is the first AIC runner and the first from the Northeast-10 to win an NCAA Cross Country Championship. Overall he is the fourth Yellow Jacket to win an NCAA Championship. Dominic Smith '12 claimed the College's first national title by winning the 2012 Indoor Track and Field National Championship in the 400-meter dash. Four years later, Chandler Cotton Jr. '18, Kemani Hume '18, Leakey Kipkosgei '19, and Chad Miller '19 earned the top spot in the distance medley relay at the 2016 Indoor Track and Field National Championship and finally, Kipkosgei picked up an individual national title at the 2019 Outdoor Track and Field National Championship, winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
From the start of the men's race, Mutai was always among the top runners in the competition; he was in the lead at the mile mark and within the top three from then on the whole distance. At the midpoint, he was in a dead heat with UNC Pembroke's Joshua Chepkesir, running the first five kilometers in 14:27.2. Missouri Southern's Gidieon Kimutai made a run at the three-quarter mark of the race, opening a six-second gap on Mutai by the 8.4 kilometer mark, and with less than 1000 meters left, held a seven-second edge before fading, as Mutai chased him down to cross the line well ahead of both of the two competitors. The closest finisher to Mutai was Kale Adams of Adams State, who crossed the line 12.7 seconds later than Mutai.
In addition to his national title, on Tuesday Mutai was honored with the Doug Watts Award as the Division II National Athlete of the Year. Mutai won every race he ran this fall, including the NE10 Championship and the NCAA East Regional.
- information provided by AIC athletic communications
ABOUT THE NE10
The NE10 is an association of 14 diverse institutions serving student-athletes across 24 NCAA Division II sports. Together we build brilliant futures by embracing the journey of every student-athlete.
Each year, 4,500 of those student-athletes compete in conference championships in 24 sports, making the NE10 the largest DII conference in the country in terms of sport sponsorship. Leading the way in the classroom, on the field and within the community, the NE10 is proud of its comprehensive program and the experience it provides student-athletes.