Redshirt freshman James Sugira delivered an All-American worthy performance to lead the Eastern Kentucky University men’s cross country team to a 16th place finish at the NCAA Division-I Cross Country Championships on Saturday at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course.
It is the second-best national finish in program history, nearly topping the Colonels’ 15th place finish at the 2013 NCAA Championships.
EKU came into the meet ranked No. 21 in the country, but finished with 430 points on the day to take 16th place.
The Colonels defeated the likes of Ole Miss (17th), Indiana (18th), Michigan (19th), Villanova (23rd), Arkansas (25th), Syracuse (26th), Texas (27th) and Florida State (31st).
In his first-ever NCAA Championships appearance, Sugira battled snowy Wisconsin conditions to finish 14th out of 252 of the best distance runners in the country. He covered the rugged 10K course in a time of 29:35.6.
Sugira’s performance earned him All-America honors.
It marks the 14th time an EKU runner has earned NCAA cross country All-America honors.
Sugira’s 14th place finish is the best by a Colonel at the NCAA meet since Jacob Korir took sixth in 2007.
Senior Jaime Romo was second on the team and 82nd overall with a time of 30:29.4.
Three Colonels then finished in a pack to seal the 16th place finish. Senior Erick Rotich was 144th (31:00.8), followed closely by senior David Bascunana (146th / 31:02.2) and freshman Antoine Senard (148th / 31:02.7).
Juniors Samuel Abascal (199th / 31:40.6) and Zach Stewart (206th / 31:47.1) also competed for the Colonels on the day.
No. 1 Northern Arizona won its second straight national title with a score of 83 points.
This was the EKU men’s sixth trip to the NCAA Championships and first since 2015.