BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Eastern Kentucky University senior Soufiane Bouchikhi and junior Ann Eason have been voted the Ohio Valley Conference Male and Female Outdoor Track Athletes of the Year, the league office announced on Thursday.
Bouchikhi ran a 13:45.92 in the 5,000 meters at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 17. That time currently ranks No. 1 in the OVC, No. 3 in the NCAA East Region and No. 10 in the country. It is also the second-fastest 5,000 meters time in EKU history. Bouchikhi also owns the second-fastest 1,500 meters time in the conference, a personal-best 3:47.61 which he ran at the Tennessee Relays on April 10.
This is the first time in Bouchikhi’s storied career he has been named the OVC Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year. The native of Antwerp, Belgium is a five-time All-American (twice cross country, three times track and field), an 11-time OVC individual champion, the OVC Male Cross Country Runner of the Year each of the last four seasons and the 2012 OVC Male Indoor Track Athlete of the Year. He also owns three EKU records: the indoor mile (4:02.90), indoor 3,000 meters (7:53.99) and indoor 5,000 meters (13:46.06).
Bouchikhi is the sixth Colonel to be named the OVC Male Outdoor Track Athlete of Year, joining teammate Wade Meddles (2013), Stanley Mugo (2009), Jacob Korir (2008), Dallas Robinson (2005) and Chris Franklin (2004).
Eason broke EKU’s 36-year old outdoor 5,000 meters record with a personal and OVC-best time of 16:03.87 at the Stanford Invitational on April 4. That time currently ranks No. 15 in the NCAA East Region. Eason also owns the top time in the conference in the 1,500 meters, a personal-best 4:22.49 which she clocked at the Tennessee Relays on April 10. That time is currently the 27th-fastest in the East Region.
Eason, who missed the indoor season due to an injury, was a second team All-American in the 5,000 meters last spring after placing ninth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a time of 16:06.11. The native of Lexington is also the two-time reigning OVC Female Cross Country Runner of the Year. This is the first time in her career she has been named the OVC Female Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year.
Eason is the eighth Colonel to be named the OVC Female Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year but the first since 2005. She joins Nicole Gibson (2005), Sheri Calhoun (2003), Jamie King (1997, 1998), Angie Barker (1986), Pam Raglin (1984, 1985), Mariann Ostbye (1983) and Terri Seippel (1980).
It marks the first time EKU has swept the Male and Female Track Athlete of the Year awards since Robinson and Gibson did it in 2005.
Other winners from this year included SIUE’s La’Derrick Ward (Male Field Athlete of the Year), Southeast Missouri’s Chris Martin (Male Freshman of the Year), SEMO’s Kalya Gutierrez (Female Field Athlete of the Year) and Tennessee State’s Amber Hughes (Female Freshman of the Year).
Bouchikhi, Eason and the rest of the EKU track and field team will compete at the OVC Outdoor Championships this weekend in Edwardsville, Ill.