With OVC Runners of the Week Erick Rotich and Charlotte Imer leading the way, Eastern’s men and women cross country teams won the Bluegrass Invitational this past weekend in Lexington.

The Eastern men received a score of 44 to top Kentucky (47) despite having a few of its key runners, senior Amos Kosgey, sophomore Tom Koringo and sophomore Jakob Abrahamsen, unable to run. With a time of 24:11.9, Colonel freshman Erick Rotich kicked off his first collegiate season by winning the 8K race.

“It’s still kind of new to him [Rotich], but he did a great job,” said Rick Erdmann, head coach of the Eastern men and women’s cross country teams. “It’s funny actually. Erick was quoted in the Lexington Herald-Leader saying that he wasn’t expecting to win because he normally runs a 5K.”

The top-five runners included junior Ambrose Maritim, who finished the race seventh with a time of 24:52.7. Junior Luka Ndungu (11th place) finished with a time of 24:52.7. Freshman Timothy Asis (12th place) finished with a time of 24:54.1 and junior Luis Luna (13th place) finished with a time of 24:54.6. The victory in the Bluegrass Invitational helped the Colonels jump ahead of Arizona State University to the No. 22 spot in the national poll.

“A lot of people don’t understand the level that these guys can compete,” said Erdmann. “They’re a really hard-working group of guys.”

The Eastern women ran away during its victory this past weekend, finishing with 28 points. Its closest competition was host Kentucky, who finished with 40 points.

“The women, as a group, ran exceptionally well,” said Erdmann. “They all have competed, and realize the level of success they reach is team-oriented. They are not out there for their individual selves. They are running to help the team reach a common goal.”

Senior Ashley Svec finished in seventh place with a time of 17:36.1 and sophomore Ciara Scott finished with a time of 17:55.4 to place 12th. Coming up victorious in the Bluegrass Invitational, the Eastern women jumped from No. 7 to No. 5 in the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Cross Country Rankings.

“The women really seem to understand the concept of a team,” said Erdmann. “Our top three runners, Charlotte Imer (freshman), Julie Mathisen (senior) and Anna Reddin (senior) finished 2-4-5. That’s really what we want. We want our runners to finish the race closer together.”

Other teams that competed in the Bluegrass Invitational include Bellarmine, Illinois, Kentucky, Miami (Ohio), Morehead State and Northern Kentucky.

Both cross country teams look to continue their success as they compete at the Panorama Farms Invitational in Charlottesville, Virginia on Sep. 26.