EARLYSVILLE, Va. – The Eastern Kentucky University men’s cross country team won the NCAA Southeast Regional for the first time in program history on Friday afternoon at Panorama Farms.
EKU – ranked No. 17 in the country entering Friday’s meet – will advance to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. for the third consecutive year.
The Colonels, who had finished second at the regional the last two seasons, placed six runners in the top-21 to finish with 58 points and easily defeat the likes of Virginia (96 points), North Carolina State (101 points) and North Carolina (137). Virginia Tech (167 points), William & Mary (232 points), Louisville (236 points), Duke (253 points), High Point (264 points) and Liberty (273 points) rounded out the men’s top-10. In-state rival Kentucky placed 12th (336 points).
Senior Soufiane Bouchikhi – last year’s Southeast Region individual champion – led EKU on Friday, finishing third out of 239 runners and covering the 10K course in a time of 28:43.6. Fellow senior Wade Meddles was second on the team and sixth overall with a time of 28:56.4. Sophomore Thijs Nijhuis (13th / 29:31.0), freshman Ambrose Maritim (17th / 29:37.4) and junior Ben Toroitich (19th / 29:40.7) rounded out the Colonels’ top five.
Junior Ole Hesselbjerg (21st / 29:43.6) and senior Erwin Leysen (70th / 30:53.9) also competed for EKU.
The EKU women finished 12th out of 38 teams on Friday. Senior Una Britton – the Ohio Valley Conference individual champion two Saturdays ago – led the way for the Colonels, placing 34th out of 265 competitors with a 6K time of 21:24.4. Sophomore Cecile Chevillard finished 52nd with a time of 21:47.2, while junior Ann Reddin was 71st with a time of 22:09.4 Junior Ann Eason – EKU’s top runner throughout the fall – ran through the injury that sidelined her for the OVC Championships two weeks ago to finish 78th with a time of 22:13.7. Sophomore Ashley Svec rounded out EKU’s top five with a 119th-place finish in a time of 22:46.8.
Senior Hannah Miller (129th / 22:49.7) and freshman Madison Zeitz (131st / 22:54.3) also competed for the EKU women.
Host Virginia won the women’s title on Friday with 57 points.
The NCAA Championships will take place at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute on Saturday, Nov. 23.