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Fankhouser runs her way to All-American honors

DHS grad Knight earns All-American honors for champion Mines
Fort Lewis College student-athlete Katie Fankhouser celebrates with head coach Shawn Jakubowski after earning All-American honors at the national cross-country meet on Friday in Washington. (Courtesy FLC Athletics)

Katie Fankhouser is bringing home first-team All-American honors to Durango.

The junior out of Lyons, Colorado, became the Skyhawks' first All-American in any sport since 2017 after running her way to a 26th-place finish at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships at Chambers Creek Regional Park in Washington on Friday.

“Once again, Katie proved that she is one of the biggest rising stars at the NCAA Division II level,” said head coach Shawn Jakubowski. “At the start of the season, the goal was to be an All-American, and she went out and did it today.”

Racing at her first nationals, Fankhouser hit the ground running in the 6K to prove herself among the stacked field. At the 1-mile mark, she was sitting in 10th place with a 5:26.2 split. The 2-mile split saw her fall to 19th place with a total time of 10:59.9. She improved one spot at the 4.2K mark with a time of 14.41.1 as they neared the home stretch.

She looked to be fading at the 5K mark, dropping to 31st place at 17.41.7. Teammates in attendance at a watch party at Whalen Gymnasium showed no signs of worry, though, and immediately spoke about Fankhouser’s incredible kick and ability to turn it on when others are showing signs of fatigue. Fankhouser climbed five spots in the last kilometer to cross the line in 26th place out of 262 runners in 21:10.2.

“It was a cold, muddy, and snowy day and Katie thrives in those conditions, so we knew right away that it was going to be a good day,” Jakubowski said. “I've never coached an athlete as mentally strong as Katie. She is a unique and special athlete that a coach only gets a few of in their careers. Now we will take a small break before gearing up for track season. Expect her to turn more heads in the spring.”

In the team race, Adams State University’s women won the national title for third straight year with 75 points, led by Stephanie Cotter’s second national championship performance in 19:45. Grand Valley State finished second with 126, followed by Colorado School of Mines (164), UCCS (184), Augustana (218), CSU-Pueblo (240), Cedarville (271), Western Colorado (288), Wayne State (334) and Colorado Christian (352) in 10th out of the 34 teams that ran.

Colorado School of Mines, meanwhile, won the men’s national title by the widest margin ever. The Orediggers, and Durango High School graduate Paul Knight, finished first with 43 points, 134 points less than second-place Wingate. Dillon Powell won the individual 10K title for Mines in 29:28 while Knight, a freshman, placed 24th in 30:17.

Colorado Christian finished third with 191 while Western Colorado placed 11th (337) and UCCS finished 13th (357).