A new king was crowned early Saturday afternoon.
Patrick Tiernan unseated the three-time defending champion, Oregon’s Edward Cheserek, for the national championship crown at Terre Haute, Ind.
Tiernan completed the 10,000 meter course with a time of 29:22.0, finishing approximately five seconds faster than runner-up Justyn Knight (Syracuse) and 26-seconds sooner than Cheserek.
“I wanted to leave the NCAA with an NCAA championship and nothing was going to get in the way of that,” Tiernan said to FloTrack, after the race.
Tiernan, Knight, and Cheserek led the pack for most of the race, sticking close by to one another. Eventually, Tiernan and Knight distanced themselves from Cheserek, who fell behind the two around the eight-kilometer mark.
From there, Tiernan was able to close out the race and gain enough separation from Knight.
The end result featured a similar outcome from last year’s NCAA Cross Country championship race, in which Cheserek went toe-to-toe with Tiernan for the first eight kilometers of the course–all until he pulled away from Tiernan to win his third consecutive national cross country title.
This time around, Tiernan was on the winning end of the race, placing the finishing touches on his collegiate cross country career with a championship trophy as a senior.
“I wasn’t coming in second again,” Tiernan said. “I was going to get my way today.”
Tiernan deals Cheserek only his third loss on the national stage. Cheserek, fittingly named “King Ches,” has competed in cross country, indoor, and outdoor national championship races ever since he first set foot on Oregon’s campus. Entering Saturday, he had finished in first 15 times out of 17 races.
With three-straight national titles in the cross country season, it seemed safe to pencil Cheserek in for another championship trophy.
However, with Tiernan’s performance, there’s a new king at the national level. The crown belongs to someone else now.
Tiernan captured the first men’s national championship since Vic Swolak won in 1963. They are the only champions to emerge from the men’s cross country program at Villanova. Also, Tiernan stands alone as the only four-time All-American in school history.
The win adds another championship to Villanova’s illustrious year. In April, the men’s basketball team beat North Carolina for the first national title since 1985. At the Summer Olympics in Rio, basketball alumnus Kyle Lowry helped Team USA win the gold medal. Then, earlier this month, football and baseball letterwinner Matt Szczur and the Chicago Cubs won a World Series.