By Stanford Athletics, edited by News Gate Team
Australia’s New South Wales state of BATHURST – Ky Robinson, a junior at Stanford, finished 23rd in his native nation on Sunday at the World Cross Country Championships.
Robinson finished the challenging 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) route at Mount Panorama in 31:11, placing first among Australians and second among non-African-born athletes. He was the second college student, just ahead of Wake Forest’s Aaron Las Heras of Spain, who came in at number 22.
To become Stanford’s highest finisher in this competition since Chris Derrick ’12 of the United States finished 10th over a 12K (7.46-mile) course in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in 2013, Robinson, 20, overcame the wind, hot, humid, steep, and muddy conditions as a storm approached.
It was really challenging, according to Robinson. “The wind’s ability to stir up dust was the worst factor. My vision was being completely obscured by the dust, making it difficult for my eyes to stay open. There were some parts where you just had to push through, but I’m glad I did.”
Irene Riggs and Leo Young, two future Cardinal, excelled in the under-20 competitions. Amy Bunnage, a Stanford-committed athlete from Australia, was unable to complete the women’s U20 race.
U.S. U20 individual champions Young and Riggs placed 16th and 12th respectively. Both contributed to their American teams winning bronze. For the U20 women, it was their first medal-winning effort, while for the U20 men, it was their first since 1982.
Riggs placed second among Americans and non-Africans overall. She contributed to the U.S. team winning the bronze. Senior at Morgantown (W.Va.) High School Riggs ran the 6K in 22:03. (3.73 miles). Riggs beat Alexandra Gits ’11’s 13th-place performance from the World U20 race in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2008 to place first among Stanford-affiliated women.
Riggs told LetsRun.com, “I’m incredibly delighted,” and she said that she thought this was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Riggs stated, “I entered with an objective of the top 25. “I was hesitant to exert a lot of force on it. I was aware that I would not be in the lead group. I wanted to start off a little more cautiously, believing that I wasn’t required to win the race.”
With a time of 26:03 over 8K, Young finished first among non-Africans in the men’s U20 field (4.97 miles). The highest-finishing Stanford-affiliated runner in the men’s U20 race since Derrick finished 15th in 2009 in Amman, Jordan, is Young, a senior at Newbury Park (Calif.) High. Young also holds the record for the highest-placing American since that race, with German Fernandez finishing ahead of Derrick in 11th place.
The U.S. U20 men’s plan was to start at the bottom and work their way up. They believed they could place in the top 20 if they were in the top 30 and could complete their final 2K lap as quickly as possible.
In response to being first among non-Africans, Young told LetsRun.com, “Simply put, it’s cool. The United States has struggled to compete with the world’s top nations. Doing that today demonstrates our readiness to pursue it. The United States might be included among the African nations the next time.”
Robinson, who is from Brisbane, a city that is located around 600 miles northeast of Bathurst, benefited from the crowd’s support.
It was great, remarked Robinson. “It seems like everyone was there to support me. There was always someone around the corner. Kids were yelling my name as I spotted so many familiar faces. That maintained my strength up on those downhills as well as assisted me up some of those hills.”