By Chris McGee
The indoor track and field teams took a shortage of athletes and spun it into a positive last weekend.
Eastern teams ignored the fact they didn’t have enough athletes to compete in some of the events such as the high jump, pole vault and throwing, which put them in a 180-point hole. Instead, the Colonels forged on and finished second and third, respectively, in the Ohio Valley Conference Track and Field Indoor Championships held in Nashville, Tenn.
In the women’s division, Eastern Illinois won with 149.5 points, and Eastern came in second with 101. In addition, the Lady Colonels won nine individual gold medals.
Kosgei led the medal count for the women with three. She won the women’s 800 meters with a time of 2:09.95, which is the second fastest in school history. She also recorded an OVC Championships-record time of 4:51.08 on her way to winning the women’s mile. Kosgei also won the 3,000 meters with a time of 10:09.46.
But Kosgei also reiterated her team-first attitude by teaming with fellow senior Jackline Barkechir, juniors Bianca Forbes and Picoty Leitich to win the distance medley relay in 11:53.87.
Freshman Ann Eason made her formal introduction by winning her first conference title in the 5,000 meters with a time of 17:35.22.
Eastern Illinois University also won the men’s division, scoring 196 points. Southeast Missouri came in second with 112 and Eastern finished third with 96.
Colonel junior Soufiane Bouchikhi won his third straight men’s 3,000 meters in 8:35.73. He also showed his loyalty to team by pairing with seniors Ben Cheruiyot, Peter Sigilai and Gerry Cooper to win the men’s distance medley relay with a time of 9:54.42.
Senior David Mutuse successfully defended his indoor 5,000-meter title recording a time of 14:45.71. Fellow senior Ben Cheruiyot won his first career OVC title in the men’s mile with a time of 4:14.44.
Coach Rick Erdmann said both teams did well.
“For the women to finish second, with the points we were giving up, was a very good performance,” Erdmann said.
Eastern Illinois recorded its third straight victory over Eastern with this win.
Erdmann had one simple explanation for what makes them so tough to beat- numbers.
“They have six different coaches,” Erdmann said. “They have one for high jump, one for pole vault, and so on. They have a coach for the different events in a combined program.”
He also said Eastern Illinois has an indoor track facility to practice on during inclement weather.
Erdmann said Eastern’s teams will concentrate on recording faster times in the events they do compete in to get ready for the next competition.
The next event for the Colonels will be the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships March 9-10 in Nampa, Idaho.
In addition, Lydia Kosgei will have her next chance to make nationals in the 3,000 meters Saturday at Notre Dame.