James Mwaura competes at the 82nd NCAA national men's cross country championships at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Indiana.

On the heels of the best finish by a program-best finish at the NCAA West Regionals and becoming only the second Zag to make the NCAA Championships, GU cross country’s James Mwaura finished his sophomore season by placing 138th out of 252 runners on Friday.

Mwaura crossed the finish line at 32:16.2 on the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Indiana, hosted by Indiana State University. As GU’s lone representative at the national championships and the first since 2015, the Tacoma-born sophomore put an exclamation mark on the end of only the second season of a promising young career in Spokane.

"Not what James and the Zags XC Nation wanted, but we are still proud of James Mwaura making the NCAA finals," GU’s director of cross country and track & field Pat Tyson said in a news release. "It was a valuable experience. You have to taste the mud and the grit to really know how to deal with the tough sport of cross country.” 

Last season, Mwaura turned heads when he became the first Zag to run a sub 30-minute 10K. In his sophomore season, he continued to show up against top-tier competition. He won an individual title at the Cougar Classic in Colfax, Washington,  for the second year in a row, placed eighth at the Joe Piane Invitational in Notre Dame, Indiana, and 15th at the Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin, both against national competition.

Mwaura also broke the program's 8K record at the Joe Piane Invitational with a time of 23:30 and claimed fourth place at the WCC championships.He finished third at regionals and was named All-Region and All-Conference.

Fellow WCC team Brigham Young captured its first team national championship, beating three-time defending champion and No. 1-ranked Northern Arizona along the way.

With the season officially over, Mwaura's and his teammates’ focus turns to the upcoming track & field season in the spring.

“Like our team, he had a great season,” Tyson added. “He'll lead our team to nationals in Stillwater, Oklahoma, next November. In the meantime, we get ready for indoor track."

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