By Matthew Crump
Last weekend was a solid start for the Eastern cross country teams. Both the men’s and women’s teams won team titles at the Brooks Memphis Twilight Cross Country Classic last Saturday and Sunday. Both teams defeated a field of 21 teams, including Ohio Valley Conference rivals Morehead State, University of Tennessee at Martin and Murray State.
Eastern’s men dominated the Men’s four-mile run. The Colonels had 14 of the top 30 runners, including the top three positions. Junior Soufiane Bouchikhi placed first with a time of 20:43.95, sophomore Thijs Nijhuis placed second with a time of 20:43.99 and sophomore Ben Toroitich placed third with a time of 20:44.03. Bouchikhi walked away with the individual title.
Freshman Amos Kosgey, younger brother of 2011-12’s OVC Female Athlete of the Year Lydia Kosgei, placed fifth with a time of 20:48.41, the highest spot a freshman placed. Sophomore Ole Hesselbjerg placed fifth on the team and tenth place overall with a time of 21:13.84.
“We have guys who really pushed me to do well,” Kosgey said. “Seeing the team work together, and the strength we have, I think it is going to take us far.”
The freshmen on the women’s team dominated the Women’s 5K run, earning both the team and individual titles. Three freshmen placed in the top five. Freshman Meri Rantanen placed first with a time of 18:11.74, and her sister Freshman Viivi Rantanen placed third with a time of 18:35.65.
The women’s top returning athlete, sophomore Ann Eason, finished fourth on the team and sixth overall with a time of 18:56.04. Freshman Julie Mathisen finished fifth on the team and 17th overall with a time of 19:47.83.
“We didn’t really know what to expect,” Eason said. “It was our first race, and we hadn’t done any workouts. Coach just wanted us to go out there and race and see what kind of shape we were in and how we stacked up against the competition.”
Even with the big start, Kosgey says the team will continue to work hard.
“I know that as we progress we can expect much competition,” Kosgey said. “We will have to do lots of practice for these remaining days to put us in good positions.”
Both teams return in two weeks on Saturday, Sept. 15 when they travel to Nashville, Tenn. for the Commodore Classic.