By Cameron Blair
Senior Jacob Korir broke his own school record in the 5,000-meter run at the Mt. SAC Relays in California Saturday, and Eastern’s men’s and women’s track and field teams combined to win 11 events at the EKU Open held in Richmond Friday.Korir finished fourth overall in the race and had the best time among college athletes in the event. The senior from Kenya finished the race with a time of 13 minutes and 29.12 seconds, which was 18 seconds better than his previous personal record.
“Jacob is a hard worker and a great competitor,” Head Coach Rick Erdmann said. “He’s competing at a really high level right now.”
Korir finished ahead of several notable collegiate runners, such as Shadrack Songok of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Josh McDougal of Liberty. McDougal defeated Korir at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in a 10K race in November.
“McDougal gets a lot of attention in the running community, and rightfully so,” Erdmann said. “But Jacob went out there and beat him by about eight seconds.”
However, Korir was not the only Colonel to have success during the weekend.
Eastern’s men’s track and field team won eight events at the EKU Open. Being an open event, no official team scores were tallied.
The Colonels dominated the track portion of the opens, especially in the distance events.
Junior Joseph Maina picked Eastern’s first individual victory of the day. Maina won the 1,500 with a time of 3:51.20.
Sophomore Elkana Kurgat (1:52.48) and junior Christopher Rengilfo (1:52.78) finished first and second, respectively, in the 800.
Erdmann said he was impressed with his distance runners, especially Rengilfo.
“I was very excited to see that Christopher Rengilfo ran the 800 in 1:52,” Erdmann said. “That was a new PR (personal record) for him.”
Stanley Mugo also notched another first-place showing for the Colonels. He finished first in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Two of Eastern’s freshman runners came through for the Colonels in the short distance events.
Freshman Michael VanKrutchen took first place in the 110-meter hurdles. The former Dutch junior champion defeated the second-place finisher by more than one second.
Fellow freshman Shannon Davis, who also plays football for Eastern, won the 200 with a time of 21.37. Davis’ time was the best time in the 200 by an OVC athlete this season.
“Anytime we can have a guy like Shannon walk on to the team it’s a big help to us,” Erdmann said. “But running for us will also make him a better athlete and football player.”
The Colonels also picked up two wins in the field events at the Open. Juniors Randy Hopkins and Jordan Sharp won the shot put and high jump events, respectively.
Although Eastern’s women were not as dominant as the men, they did pick up three victories during the event.
Carrie Crawford was dominant on her way to a first-place finish in the 5,000. The senior finished the race with a time of 18:34.61, which was 11 seconds better than the nearest runner.
“Carrie is a young woman who has worked very hard to be a successful 5,000-meter runner,” Erdmann said. “I really have to give her a lot of credit.”
Freshman Jasmyn Norris picked up the women’s second win after she won the 400 with a time of 1:10.00. The Colonels 4-by-100 relay team also finished in first place.
Erdmann said the women’s team still has work to do before the conference championships.
“We just have to keep working,” Erdmann said. “And hopefully we can score some points at the OVC Championships.”
Erdmann mentioned the women’s team is at a disadvantage after losing senior Katy Ankrom for the season due to mononucleosis, and said the other Colonel runners need to step up during the final two weeks of the season.
Both the men’s and women’s track teams are currently competing in the Penn Relays in Philadelphia. The Colonels will compete there until Saturday.