The thought of not having a Big Ten cross country championship has gnawed away at Matt McClintock for some time.

Not anymore.

McClintock, a Madison graduate in his senior year at Purdue, shaved 27 seconds off his personal best and set a new meet record to win the Big Ten championship Sunday in Chicago.

“It has to be the best race I ever ran,” he said. “To get such a big PR and get the conference record and win the conference meet… Not having this medal hanging on my wall was really bothering me and, being a senior, this was my last chance.”

“I’ve been waiting for that one for a while,” added McClintock, who already has a Big Ten track and field championship under his belt.

McClintock finished the eight-kilometer course in 23:12.1, six seconds better than the old meet record and 27 seconds off his PR.

“It’s the fastest race I’ve ever been in,” he said. “We were just blazing from the (starting) gun.”

McClintock finished third at last year’s conference championship in Iowa City, Iowa, and was trailing defending champion Malachy Schrobligen of Wisconsin by about six seconds near the race’s midpoint. Running virtually shoulder-to-shoulder with Michigan’s Mason Ferlic, they closed down on the leader, who quickly dropped back to eighth at the 4K mark.

Illinois’ Dylan Lafond joined the leaders to make it a three-man race again. As the lead pack reached the final kilometer, McClintock believed he would have to make his move soon.

“I don’t have the greatest kick, so I knew I had to win that race before 400 to go,” he said.

He found another gear with about 600 meters to go and separated from Ferlic and Lafond, crossing the finish line seven seconds in front of Ferlic. Lafond finished third, 10 seconds back.

With the victory, McClintock became the first Boilermaker to win the conference title since Eddie Ericsson won the four-mile race in 1943.

It is the latest in a long list of accomplishments.

In 2012, he was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after finishing eighth in the conference championship. As a sophomore, he was runner-up at the conference meet and became Purdue’s first All-American since 1987 after placing 37th at the NCAA championships. He earned All-American honors again with a 19th-place finish at last year’s national championships.

He’s also been an All-American in track and field, having placed seventh in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA championships last spring. Prior to that, he became the first Boilermaker to win the Big Ten 5,000 meter championship. He was also a 2014-15 track and field/cross country Academic All-American.

He still has the 10-kilometer NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Nov. 13 in Madison, Wis. If he qualifies there, he will return to the NCAA championships on Nov. 21 in Louisville, Ky.

McClintock anticipates having two very sore hamstrings for the next couple of days. As much as Sunday’s victory meant to him, he planned on keeping his championship celebration rather low key.

“I’m going to go home and my girlfriend is going to buy me a giant Chipotle burrito. I’m going to eat it and then go to bed,” he said. “I’m exhausted.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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