NATIONAL CHAMP: Kurtenbach Captures Second NCAA Cross Country Title in School History

Khia Kurtenbach
Khia Kurtenbach

ELSAH, Ill. In her final season for the University of Chicago women's cross country team, senior Khia Kurtenbach had plenty of expectations for 2017.

Saturday, she accomplished the biggest of them all.

Kurtenbach earned her spot in the Maroons' history books with her first-place finish in the 2017 NCAA Division III National Championships, beating the 279-runner field with a winning time of 20 minutes, 39 seconds, just six seconds ahead of runner-up Bryn McKillop of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

She captured just the second individual national championship in program history, joining Rhaina Echols, who won it all in 1999.

"I thought Khia came into the meet very confident," UChicago Head Coach Chris Hall, in his 19th season, said. "She looked relaxed at 2 miles and I thought at that time she was going to win. She made a big move shortly afterward on a tough hill to gap the field, and never looked back. 

"I'm really proud of the way she raced." 

Her finish helped the Maroons women's squad take a stellar 14th-place in the 32-team field, 11 places higher than they placed in 2016 and the best finish since 2014, when UChicago took 12th.

Fellow senior Cassidy McPherson was the next Maroons finisher in 128th (22:25), followed by senior Kelsey Dunn (148th, 22:35), and first-year Maggie Boudreau (158th, 22:39).

Sophomore Claire Brockway (176th, 22:47), first-year Abigail Shoemaker (196th, 22:55) and senior Claire Costelloe (227th, 23:10) rounded out the Maroons' scoring, which produced 421 points.

Johns Hopkins won the team title with 96 points, Wisconsin-Eau Claire was second and Washington-St. Louis third.

Kurtenbach earned her third cross country All-American honor of her career, topping her performances from 2016 (10th) and 2015 (25th).