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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Chris Cummings finishes second in a photo finish of the mile championship at the NCAA Division II National Indoor Track & Field Championship

MANKATO, MN – Mansfield University senior Chris Cummings (Mansfield/Mansfield) came as close to winning the mile as any runner ever  in  the history of the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championship before finishing second in a photo-finish at the National Championship in Mankato State Saturday.

“It’s a little disappointing to come so close and finish second,” said Cummings after the race. “But just a little. It’s hard to feel disappointed with you finish second best at a National Championship."

For a brief moment – longer that the .01 difference in the time between first and second place -- Cummings believed he was the first Mountaineer to win a national championship.

“When the race ended ,” Cummings explained. “I looked at the scoreboard at the end of the track and it had my lane and time listed as the winner. It just took a moment for them to readjust and post the official results – but it was a great moment.”

It was an unbelievable performance for the senior who becomes a two-time Indoor All-American after becoming the first Mountaineer men’s runner to earn All-American honors with a sixth place finish in the mile at the 2006 NCAA Division II National Indoor Track & Field Championship in Boston.

“Chris ran such a great race,” said a horse head coach Mike Rohl. “It was impossible to be any closer. He stuck to the plan so perfectly. It wasn’t  the time – the pace was actually very slow at the start for a championship run – it was the position he kept himself in. “

“There were a lot of big runners in the race and Chris had to keep himself from being bumped and pinned in by them. He stayed on the outside the entire race and kept out of the pack. Boy I thought he had it at the end.”

Cummings started on the inside of the nine-man final field and fell back into last place for most of the first half of the race. He started moving up slowly on the outside of the pack into eight, seventh and fifth going into the final two laps.

He continued to overcome runners on the outside until he was running stride-for-stride with leader Daniel Kirwa of Harding and Denise Mokoya of Mankato State. It looked for a brief second from the live-feed of the event that Cummings had taken the advantage as he lead forward at the tape.

Kirwa, a freshman for Kenya, was declared the winner with a time of 4:12.62 with Cummings second at 4:12.63 – the closest mile finish ever at the NCAA Division II National Championship.

Mokoya, a sophomore and also from Kenya,  finished third (4:12.72) followed by Kris Berry of Western University (4:13.48) and Michael Pierre of Southwest Baptist State (4:13.81).

“I’ve been blessed, truly blessed, to coach Chris," said Rohl. “I’m thankful he decided to stay in Mansfield. He's just a terrific runner and a better person.”

Far from disappointed, Cummings was pleased with his performance especially after yesterday’s disappointing ninth-place finish of the Mountaineer men’s distance medley relay team at the national championship.

He finished third in the preliminaries of the mile on Friday night before running the anchor of the DMR later in the evening.

“Im not as good when I have to run two races back –to-back,” explained Cummings.  “I have to admit I was actually sore this morning when I woke up.”

Cummings went out for a leisurely three-mile run in the morning to work out the soreness – seems to have worked out pretty well.


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