By Cameron Blair
Jacob Korir earned Saturday his fourth consecutive automatic bid to get into the NCAA Championships by finishing second overall at the Southeast Region Championships in Louisville.But, this time he has some familiar company.
Junior Joseph Maina finished eighth at the regional championship with a time of 30:02.55 and earned one of the four at-large bids given out in the region.
Head Coach Rick Erdmann said he was pleased with Maina’s development as a runner this season.
“He’s come a very long way this year,” Erdmann said. “And in many ways, Jacob Korir has helped him become a better runner.”
Altough Korir did not repeat as the regional champion, he ran the 10K course in a time of 29:36.10. This was six seconds behind regional champion, and Korir’s longtime rival, Josh McDougal of Liberty who finished with a time of 29:30.70.
Erdmann said he wasn’t too concerned about Korir’s second-place finish.
“He’s a very competitive young man,” Erdmann said. “His goal was to make the nationals and he went out there and did that.”
McDougal and Korir also finished first and second, respectively, at the pre-nationals Oct. 14. But Erdmann said Korir has been one of the few runners to beat McDougal during their respective careers.
“It’s just one of those who’s-on-that-day kind of thing,” Erdmann said of the NCAA Championships.
The men finished eighth overall in the meet out of 29 teams. The top two teams from each region get automatic team bids to the NCAA Championships.
Other notable runners on the men’s side were sophomore Elkana Kurgat (56th overall, 31:42.45), senior Jacob Fortney (78th, 32:05.00) and junior Christopher Rengilo (88th, 32:16.20).
Although none of the women made the NCAA Championships, senior Katy Ankrom finished her career on a high note. Ankrom finished 18th overall with a time of 21:08.15. Her 18th place finish was also good enough to earn her a spot on the all-region team.
“Katy didn’t have one of her better races,” Erdmann said. “She did make the all-region team and that is a great accomplishment.”
Eastern’s women finished 14th overall out of 31 teams participating in the 6K course.
Four other women ran for the Colonels in the meet. Junior Barbara Phelan finished second for the Colonels, coming in 88th place overall with a time of 22:16.80.
Maina and Korir will compete at the NCAA Championships Monday in Terra Haute, Ind.