IU senior Zach Mayhew was named an All-American after his performance in the 2012 NCAA Championship meet on Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky. Mayhew finished 13th individually and crossed the line with a time of 29:32 during the 10K course.
Mayhew became the third Hoosier cross country runner to earn All-American honors in the past three seasons — an accomplishment that can be added to the Big Ten individual title and second place finish at NCAA Regionals.His 13th place finish is the best Hoosier performance since Bob Kennedy won the event in 1992.
“That’s a long time ago, and there have been some really good runners here since then,” IU Coach Ron Helmer said. “The fact that he was able to cap off his year in that way is great. We knew he would, but saying it is one thing, and him actually doing it is another.”
The men’s team finished in 18th place at nationals, a performance Helmer said he was very pleased with, considering the team was without senior Andy Bayer. At NCAA Regionals, Bayer finished fourth overall, but came out of the race hurt, and Helmer didn’t want to risk further injury.
“I thought we would be lucky to beat anyone without Andy,” Helmer said. “It created a need for us to talk about that extra challenge. At the very least, it created a sense of urgency that they couldn’t mess up.”
The Hoosiers finished seventh nationally in 2010 and 2011. Other men’s scorers included junior Robby Nierman (104th, 30:45), sophomore JR Ricker (116th, 30:52), sophomore Even Esselink (148th, 31:05) and freshman Owen Skeete (197th, 31:38).
“He did exactly what we needed him to do,” Helmer said of Skeete, who was Bayer’s replacement. “He ended the year as our eighth runner, moved up to seventh after Andy went down, and finished as our fifth. I was really happy with that.”
In the women’s race, sophomore Kelsey Duerksen qualified as an individual and finished the 6K run with a time of 21:04, good for 145th place overall.
Helmer said both he and Duerksen knew it would be harder running without teammates.
“She was really right on the verge of having a really good race,” Helmer said. “She still needs a little more training to perform at the level she is capable. She represented herself and our team well.”
This meet capped off the year for the men’s and women’s cross country teams.
Several of the athletes will now begin training for indoor and outdoor track and field events.
“I love how our athletes rose to the challenge this year and stepped up and gave us performances we can be proud of,” Helmer said. “A bunch of inexperienced runners maintained composure and gave a really good performances all year.”