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Owens, Thiele earn All-American honors

Virginia third-years Jennifer Owens and Bobby Thiele were named All-Americans last week at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Bloomington, Ind.

"It's funny," Virginia cross country Coach Evan "Buz" Male said. "They're both third years and they're both Charlottesville natives. Jennifer went to Albemarle and Bob went to Charlottesville."

Owens and Thiele are the first Virginia All-Americans in cross country since Patty Matava was honored in 1987. They were the only Cavalier representatives at the Championships.

"It's very important to send individuals there," Thiele said. "We haven't had a men's team go since 1981. We got new coaches three years ago. This is really important for us."

Owens and Thiele were individual qualifiers for the Championship following their performances at the Regionals, held in Furman, S.C. The Virginia cross country team did not qualify for the Championships, as they were not one of the top two team finishers at Regionals.

Male said Owens' and Thiele's performance was even more impressive considering the entire squad did not qualify.

"It's really rare," he said. "Most of the All-Americans are from the teams that qualify for Nationals."

Thiele also noted that most of the All-Americans were members of a team that participated in the Championship.

"There were about three guys in front of me who didn't have a team there," he said. "Almost everyone that finishes in the top 30 is on a team that's there.

To be named a cross country All-American, a runner must finish as one of the top 30 American runners.

Owens finished the race at 27th overall and Thiele finished in 26th place.

"This is Jennifer's first time" at Nationals, Male said. "She ran her personal best ever. Bob qualified last year, but he finished in 62nd place."

Thiele said that a goal of his was to improve on last year's performance.

"This year, I wanted to make sure that I ran a lot better than I did last year," he said.

Owens finished with a time of 17:20.80 while Thiele finished the 10K course in 31:05.60.

"Both our teams are young," Male said. "Jennifer and Bob are our captains and I think it will help the teams for next year for them to have the experience of being All-Americans"