Payne takes fourth at nationals, earns All-American honors

By Doug Fitzgerald published May 22, 2008

WALNUT, Calif. - It's been a long road back, but Shannon Payne is right back to being what she always expected to be - an All-American.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs senior took fourth place in the women's 10,000-meter run late Thursday evening at the 2008 NCAA Division II National Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Mount San Antonio College. With the finish, Payne earned All-American honors for the fifth time in her Mountain Lion career.

To get there, she had to overcome a lingering knee injury that forced her to miss all of the cross country season and much of the indoor track season.

And she had to wait even a little bit longer. Severe storms, including some nearby tornado activity, force a three-hour delay to the 8:30 p.m. PST start. Running in the shadow of the witching hour didn't bother Payne.

"I felt really focused," she said. "I normally have trouble keeping my head in a race for 25 laps, but this time I was able to stay in it."

Keeping her head in the race allowed her to stay tactically sound. Naturally aggressive on the track, Payne sometimes gets impatient with a race's pace and surges to the front too early. Friday, she stayed on the pace that she and coach mark Misch had set for her.

"I tried to stay on the pace that coach gave me," said Payne. "I knew if I could stay on a (personal record) pace, I'd come out all right."

The tactic worked. Payne finished in 35 minutes, 45.50 seconds to crush her previous best at that distance by over 20 seconds.

"She absolutely ran a textbook race," said Misch. "We'll take fourth place, All-American and a 20-second PR."

Abilene Christian's Winrose Karunde was the national champion in the event, winning the race with a time of 35:29.68. Emporia State's Jonel Rossbach took second and Edinboro's Rachael Lanzel was third.

Payne has been named All-American twice in cross country. She also earned the honor twice in outdoor track (in the 10,000 meters in 2005 and the 3,000 in 2007. Payne still has a season of eligibility remaining in cross country.

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