By Tyler Ross
Last Saturday, the cross-country team showed why they are regionally ranked, when they competed at the Old Timer’s Classic hosted by Western Kentucky University. The men, ranked eighth in the southeast region, placed first overall, defeating Ohio Valley Conference rivals as well as arch-rival Western Kentucky University. They defeated Western Kentucky (23-38), Marshall (18-43) and OVC rivals, Austin Peay (15-43), Morehead State (15-50), Tennessee Tech (15-50) and UT Martin (15-50).
It’s important to know that most of the wins were “shut-outs.” In order to shut-out your opponent, you must out score them 15-50. The men’s team accomplished this not once, not twice, but three times.
The women’s team, ranked ninth in the southeast region, fell only to Western Kentucky (32-24). They placed second overall and also shut-out most of their opponents. The Colonels defeated Marshall (15-49), and OVC rivals, Austin Peay (15-50), Morehead State (15-50), Tennessee Tech (15-50) and UT Martin (15-50) in a very impressive fashion.
Freshman stand-out Soufiane Bouchiki placed first overall for the men, beating out a Western Kentucky runner by a fraction of a second.
“He’s tough,” Coach Rick Erdmann said. “If you’re going to beat him, you’re going to beat him. I expected this from him.”
Bouchiki ran a time of 24:39.72 Saturday in an 8k race.
“It felt great to win not only individually, but also as a team,” Bouchiki said.
The freshman shows great promise and is sure to help to the Colonels continue a successful season. In a few weeks, the Colonels face opponents such as Auburn and Arkansas.
Although Saturday’s race wasn’t officially scored, it gave Erdmann a good idea where his team was at. “It’s early in the season and we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Erdmann said. “It’s just a matter of getting the competition level higher and working harder.”
A higher level of competition and working harder is exactly what they need to do if they expect to meet some of their goals.
“The biggest goal for this season is to make the NCAA nationals as a team and try to win the Conference also as a team,” Bouchiki said. “Hopefully we can achieve our goal for making the Nationals, because if we don`t make it, that would be a little bit disappointing for me, because the team we have now has a lot of potential and if everyone can stay healthy and get in their best shape, I don`t think it would be a problem to make it.