SEELYVILLE, Ind. — Perhaps no runner at Monday's NCAA men's cross country championships had more to prove than University of Wisconsin senior Elliot Krause.
The Badgers' co-captain physically collapsed on the final straightaway of last year's competition, laboring through the final 400 meters en route to a shocking 137th place finish.
This time around at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course, Krause got his redemption and then some.
The senior finished 17th overall, one of four UW runners to claim All-American honors as the top-ranked Badgers dethroned two-time defending national champion Oklahoma State to claim their first national title since 2005 and the fifth in program history.
UW finished with 97 points, followed by the Cowboys (139) and third-place Colorado (144). Arizona freshman Lawi Lalang won the individual title in 28 minutes, 44.1 seconds
"I mean, this is what I came to Madison for, to try to get out there and win a national title," said Krause, who covered the 10,000-meter course in 29:41.6 — nearly two minutes better than his 2010 NCAA meet finish. "And so to do it when everything's on the line, (senior) year, kinda coming back after having a pretty awful last straightaway of the meet last year and really just falling apart, it really means a lot to me. Especially doing it with this group of guys and (coach) Mick (Byrne), I can't explain it. It's awesome."
The Badgers' triumph also represented a certain degree of vindication for Byrne, who had gone his first 22 years as a head coach without winning a national title.
"I'm super happy," said junior Mohammed Ahmed, who led the way with a fifth-place finish in a personal-best time of 29:06.7. "All I was saying to myself was, ‘Do it for Mick ... Do it for Mick,' you know? For me and Mick, we have a great relationship. He's a father figure to me. I'm from Canada, so my mom and dad aren't with me all the time. So he's definitely helping me out a lot."
The Badgers won in dominant fashion, leading the race wire-to-wire to prove they were no doubt deserving of the No. 1 ranking they received at the start of November.
Senior Ryan Collins (23rd, 29:52.2), junior Reed Connor (36th, 30:08.6) and junior Maverick Darling (46th, 30:20) rounded out UW's five scorers. Top-40 finishers earn All-American honors.
"We talked last night about it; this was still the same team today, no matter what happened," said Byrne, UW's fourth-year coach who spent the previous 19 seasons of his career building tiny Iona (N.Y.) University into a national powerhouse. "First, second, third place, I wasn't going to let anybody say (we) were a failure if we didn't pull this thing off."
Darling, the Badgers' other co-captain, wasn't happy with his performance. But seeing Krause redeem himself in the biggest meet of his career was the perfect ending to a remarkable season.
"You work with somebody everyday like that who's a hell of a worker, hard-working kid and a guy who really gets after it," Darling said. "So for him to go out an All-American, it's great. He's that guy that, no one deserved it more than him."
For more details on the championships, check out our live blog.