PLYMOUTH’S Poppy Tank earned All-American honours with an impressive run at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on Monday.
The Great Britain under-23 international finished 27th overall in the prestigious 6k race, where the top 40 finishers are named in the All-America team.
The Utah student was among the leading pack for most of the race, which was eventually won by Alabama’s Kenyan Mercy Chelangat in 20.01.1. Tank finished the tough course in 20:45.9.
“The race went out hard from the gun and I knew I wanted to be close to the front to avoid getting trapped back in the masses,” said Tank.
“I felt great halfway through and then the front really ramped up the pace and I struggled a bit to move with it so I just fought as hard as I could to maintain a position and just gave everything I had left over the last 1k. I’m just so delighted to finally be an All-American.”
Her 27th-place finish is the third-highest for any individual racer at the NCAA Cross Country Championships for Utah.
Her coach at Utah, Kyler Kepler, said: “Confidence, toughness and guts – that race took them all and Poppy was terrific.
“That is certainly one of the most challenging courses in America. To go to the front pack from the gun and run with the best runners is all you need to know. She ran to win and was in position for two thirds of the race. She then battled and stayed mentally and physically tough over the last two kilometres to secure her first All-American honour. I can’t ask more of her and am just really, really proud of her.”
Tank’s previous best finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships came in 2019 when she came 74th.
The impressive standard of the invitational race was shown by the fact that 235 athletes finished the tough, hilly 6k course within three minutes of the winner.
Tank’s City of Plymouth team-mate Victoria Weir, competing for Portland Pilots, came 214th on Monday in 22:36.5. She was fifth scorer for her team, helping them to 22nd place in their first appearance in the championships since 2018.
“I’m so proud of this team,” said Portland’s head coach Ian Solof. “They showed a lot of toughness on the hardest course in the nation.”
Cornwall’s England international Grace Brock was also among the field, finishing 147th in 21:49.4.