Terre Haute, Ind. — Western Kentucky University junior Janet Jesang earned all-America honors this morning at the NCAA Cross Country Championship at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind.
Jesang – who finished 47th at last year's NCAA Championship – clocked a time of 20:18.3 over the 6,000-meter course to finish 13th among individuals. As a top-40 finisher, the Kampala, Uganda, native has earned all-American distinction from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Jesang finished third at the NCAA Southeast Regional on November 15 at Wake Forest to earn an automatic qualifying spot to the national championship, after receiving an at-large bid to the meet as a sophomore. Earlier this season, Jesang led the Lady Toppers to their third-straight Sun Belt Conference team title, finishing first among individuals. At the Greater Louisville Classic, she tied the course record at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer park with a victorious 5,000-meter time of 16:52.95.
Jesang's 13th-place finish this morning was the best finished ever recorded by a Lady Topper at the NCAA Cross Country Championship, bettering the 16th-place and all-America finish of Breeda Dennehy at the 1991 national meet. Jesang's performance marked the first time since 1992 that a WKU athlete has earned all-America honors in cross country, when Eddie O'Carroll finished a four-year streak of WKU cross country all-Americans that included Dennehy and 1991 NCAA individual champion Sean Dollman.
Since 2004, WKU has had all-Americans in the sprints, throws, and distances. In 2004, Jonathan Brown became the first athlete in WKU history to earn multiple all-America honors in the same championship event at the NCAA Outdoor Championship with top-eight finishes in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes. The following year at the NCAA Outdoor Championship, Raigo Toompuu earned all-America honors with a fifth-place finish in the discus. Then, this past indoor season, the foursome of Alexander Larin, Terrill McCombs, Romaine McKay, and Gavin Smellie became the first relay in WKU history to earn all-America honors with an eighth-place finish in the 4x400-meter relay.
Jesang's performance this morning caps arguably the most successful calender year in the history of WKU track and field, with five all-Americans, eight NCAA Outdoor Championship qualifiers, 17 NCAA Outdoor Mideast Regional qualifiers, and a clean sweep of Sun Belt Conference titles in men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field, as well as cross country.