By Johnathan Stark
At the NCAA Cross Country Championship last week, senior Jacob Korir finished his collegiate cross country career with a personal high. The championship was held in Muncie, Ind. Nov. 19 with 250 runners.Eastern’s Korir and Joseph Maina started out in the front of the pack for the first two miles. Korir continued with a group of 20 or so runners as Maina and the rest of the field began to trail after three miles.
Around the fourth mile, Korir was still hanging with the two leaders: Liberty’s Josh McDougal and Oregon’s Galen Rupp. McDougal and Rupp made it a two-man race in the final stretch with McDougal edging out the first-place finish by one second.
Korir finished sixth at 29:48.7, his best finish in four trips to the national championships. Maina, a junior, finished 113th with a time of 31.12.9.
Next year, Maina will replace Korir as Eastern’s top runner.
In some circles, Korir and McDougal are rivals. The two have been trading victories for the last four years.
Korir lost to McDougal by just six seconds in the Southeast Regional earlier this year after beating him the year before. The two also finished first (McDougal) and second (Korir) in the Pre-NCAA Meet in mid-October.
Korir’s previous best at the championships was seventh. Over his four years at Eastern, he has compiled quite a resumé, including four trips to the national championships, four OVC titles, and the 2006 Southeast Region individual title.
He was also named an All-American three times, named OVC Runner of the Week 11 times, OVC Male Cross Country Athlete of the Year and OVC Male Athlete of the Year.
Korir will be regarded as one of the greatest runners in OVC history; only 13 other runners in the nation have ever won four conference cross country championships.
And he isn’t done with his college career yet. In the spring, he will be running again on the indoor/outdoor track team in the 3,000 and 5,000 meter races.