After claiming their title as 2014 OVC champions, Eastern’s men and women’s cross country teams earned high praise in this year’s preseason voting poll. In a poll that consists of 12 coaches, the EKU men received 11 first-place votes while the EKU women received 10 first-place votes.

“It’s nice, but I don’t like predictions. Every season, we want to win the OVC. Men and women,” Eastern Track and Cross Country Coach Rick Erdmann said.

Both teams are familiar with the top spot in the OVC, and with key runners returning from both teams, Coach Erdmann and the Colonels hope to achieve their goal of winning the OVC.

“I think we have good returners from both teams that help make up the nucleus [of the team],” Erdmann said.

The EKU men have 2014 OVC Male Runner of the year, Amos Kosgey, along with Luka Ndungu, and Ambrose Maritim returning this year to hopefully make up part of the nucleus of the team. The EKU women lost key runners in Una Britton and Anna Eason, but look for seniors, Julie Mathisen, Anna Reddin, and Ashley Svec, to step up and be the center of the team.

Despite having key players that form the “nucleus” Erdmann believes that cross-country is a “team-oriented” sport, and the team is only successful if everyone is on the same page.

The EKU men are working towards their 10th consecutive OVC title, and the women work towards their fourth consecutive title. The EKU men have also secured the 22nd ranking in the national poll according to FloTrack, a preseason national poll.

The Colonels kicked off their season with a dual meet against Kentucky at 6 p.m., on Tuesday, Sept.1, at Masterson Station.

Both the men and women’s cross country teams came out victorious over the Wildcats on Tuesday evening.

The women’s team narrowly edged out Kentucky in the 4K races by a score of 26-31, while the Eastern men’s team ran away with a 21-39 victory.

Charlotte Imer, a junior for the Eastern women’s team led the way for the Colonels with a time of 14:25.32 that earned her a second place finish out of the field of 17. Mathisen finished in fourth (14:38.92), while Reddin finished in fifth (14:38.92) and sophomore Ciara Scott finished in sixth (14:41.85) out of the field for Eastern. Svec had a ninth place finish (14:51.53) to give the Colonels its top-five finishers.

Freshman Erick Rotich of Eastern won the men’s race with a time of 11:47.05 to top the field of 21 runners. Colonel sophomore Tom Koringo finished in second (11:51.01) behind Rotich, while sophomores Sergio Mena finished fifth (11:55.96) and Jamaine Coleman finished sixth (11:58.65). To round out Eastern’s top five scores, Maritim finished in seventh with a time of 12:00.64.

Both cross country teams will compete again on Saturday, September 12 in the Bluegrass Invitational at Masterson Station Park.