Twice As Nice: Mudy repeats as NAIA XC national champion
VANCOUVER, Wash. - There is no other way to put it. Shorter University's Justyna Mudy is the best cross country runner in the country - again.
Mudy, the most decorated athlete in Shorter history, won her fifth individual national championship on Saturday by winning the 2010 NAIA Cross Country National Championships held at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver, Wash.
The senior from Stalowa Wola, Poland, became just the fifth woman in event history to repeat as national champion. The last individual to win back-to-back titles was Mirriam Kaumba of Oklahoma Baptist in 2003 and 2004.
Mudy concludes her cross country career with a third straight top-five finish at the national championships. She placed third as a sophomore before winning last year's title by 21 seconds.
Mudy, who finished the 2010 season with six individual event titles, won the 2010 crown by four seconds. She crossed the line in a time of 17:42 ahead of runner-up Karlee Coffey (17:46) of Eastern Oregon and Obsie Birru (17:51) of Grand View.
Making Mudy's repeat more impressive was the road she took to get back to the top of the NAIA's cross country ladder.
Mudy spent the entire summer and much of the 2010 preseason recovering from a broken foot that she suffered during the last 200 meters of her national championship performance in the 5,000-meter run at the 2010 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championship in May.
Despite that setback, Mudy hit the ground running, winning five of Shorter's six events this fall, including a 59-second victory at the Southern States Athletic Conference Championships two weeks ago.
She was named the NAIA's National Runner of the Week twice during the season and capped the year off by being named the league's Runner of the Year for the third straight season.
Mudy wasn't the only Lady Hawk to show well at the national meet.
Junior Sarah Massey, making her second straight appearance in Vancouver, placed 85th out of the 331 competitors by completing the 5k course in a time of 19:14. Freshman Shea Spicher placed 167th in her first nationals appearance by crossing the line in 19:49. The Lady Hawks narrowly missed a return trip to nationals as a team after finishing eight points behind SSAC champion Lee at the SSAC Championships and being denied an at-large berth into the national meet.
Nonetheless, it was a Shorter Lady Hawk that shined brightest on this day as Mudy turned in another record performance, one that puts her on pace to leave Shorter with at least seven national titles.
Mudy will have a chance to add to her collection at the NAIA Indoor Track Natonal Championships in March before entering the 2011 NAIA Outdoor Track National Championships as the odds on favorite to repeat as 5,000-meter champion and to win her third straight 3,000-meter steeplechase national title.