For the first time in program history, Eastern’s men’s cross country team began their season ranked in the top-10 of all Division 1 cross country teams.
According to a preseason poll released by by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, the Colonels are ranked ninth in the nation under well-known universities such as defending champion Syracuse, Stanford and Georgetown University.
The news, though exciting, should not come as a shock to Colonel fans as the program has consistently ranked high among its peers thanks to Head Coach Rick Erdmann’s direction.
Erdmann is in his 36th season with the program and has a repertoire that includes 48 OVC cross country titles and 17 OVC track and field championships. In the last five years, Erdmann has led the Colonels to the NCAA Cross Country Championship, a tournament that only accepts 31 teams and 39 individual athletes.
While the Colonels have yet to crack the top-10 in NCAA Championships, all top runners for the men’s team have returned for the 2016 season including regional qualifiers Jamaine Coleman, Erick Rotich, Luis Luna, Jakob Dybdal Abrahamsen and Ambrose Maritim.
Despite sitting out most of EKU’s top runners, and all regional qualifiers, both the men’s and women’s teams dominated their first competition of the season at the Eagle Opener hosted by Morehead State University.
The men’s team placed four of the top five individual results, finishing the meet with 19 points while competitors Morehead State and Marshall University finished nearly 40 points behind with 54 and 61 points, respectively.
Freshman Fred Kanda won the Men’s 5K with a time of 15:41.3 followed closely by freshman Samuel Abascal with a time of 15:47.5.
Additionally, the women’s team came into the meet with high expectations. Coach Erdmann said he expects both the men’s and women’s teams to compete at the NCAA region and national level this season despite the women’s team graduating three of their top runners.
The women’s team, voted to win the OVC Championship by a conference coaches poll, have won 9 OVC titles in the past ten years and hope to continue dominance under the Colonel’s top runner Charlotte Imer and seniors Ann Tum and Madison Zeitz.
Imer won the Eagle Opener 5K with a time of 18:39.5, while Lilian Kiborus, Haley Yost and Meggan Grams rounded out the top five individual performances.
As a team, the women’s results were similar to the men’s—the women earned 19 points to Marshall University’s 58 and Morehead State’s 62.
The men will return to competition at the Bluegrass Invitational in Lexington on Sept. 10 followed by the women’s return on Sept. 17 at the Commodore Classic in Nashville, Tenn.