OXFORD, Ala. – In a near-flawless performance, the Eastern Kentucky University men’s and women’s cross country teams swept the Ohio Valley Conference Championships for the eighth time in the last nine years on Saturday morning at Oxford Lake Park.
It was the EKU women’s team’s 28th overall, third consecutive and eighth conference title in the last nine years. The Colonels, who entered the meet ranked No. 8 in the NCAA Southeast Region, finished 1-3-4-5-6 to finish with 19 points and handily defeat their nearest competitor, Eastern Illinois (78), by 59 points. Belmont (86), Southeast Missouri (95), Murray State (144), Morehead State (154), SIUE (191), Austin Peay (225), Jacksonville State (274), Tennessee Tech (314), host UT Martin (324) and Tennessee State (340) rounded out the women’s results.
It was the EKU men’s team’s 23rd overall and ninth straight conference title. The Colonels, who entered the meet ranked No. 5 in the NCAA Southeast Region, pitched a perfect game, finishing 1-5 even without the services of top runner and OVC Male Athlete of the Year Amos Kosgey. Eastern compiled the minimum of 15 points, defeating its nearest competitor, Morehead State (90), by 75 points. SIUE (93), Belmont (97), EIU (109), SEMO (177), TTU (181), Murray State (222), APSU (282), host UT Martin (297), JSU (301) and TSU (382) rounded out the men’s results.
Long-time EKU head coach Rick Erdmann earned his 28th OVC Women’s Coach of the Year award and 21st OVC Men’s Coach of the Year award following the meet.
Senior Ann Eason – the three-time defending OVC Female Athlete of the Year – led the EKU women to victory by winning her first-career individual conference cross country title. Eason finished ninth as a freshman, sixth as a sophomore and missed last year’s championships due to an injury; however, there was nothing stopping her on Saturday, as the Lexington, Ky. native won the 5K race with a time of 17:04.73.
Belmont’s Hannah Wittman was the only runner preventing both EKU teams from going 1-5, as she finished second in the women’s race with a time of 17:06.81.
After Wittman came the rest of the Colonels. Junior Ann Reddin was third (17:26.12), followed by senior Una Britton in fourth (17:29.32), sophomore Ann Tum in fifth (17:39.62) and junior Julie Mathisen in sixth (17:41.09). All of EKU’s scoring five at the meet earned first team All-OVC honors.
Junior Ashley Svec placed eighth (17:43.81) to earn second team All-OVC honors. Freshman Ciara Scott, meanwhile, finished 16th out of 88 competitors with a time of 18:10.84.
Sophomore Ambrose Maritim became the first runner since 2009 not named Soufiane Bouchikhi to win the men’s OVC individual title on Saturday. The native of Eldoret, Kenya defeated a field of 89 runners with an 8K time of 23:59.29. His teammates were not far behind. Sophomore Luka Ndungu was second (24:02.07), followed by senior Ole Hesselbjerg in third (24:10.31), senior Sean Vandermosten in fourth (24:14.92) and freshman Jakob Abrahamsen in fifth (24:22.20). All of EKU’s top five in the race earned first team All-OVC honors.
OVC Male Freshman of the Year Ronald Korir finished ninth (24:40.48) and freshman Tom Koringo placed 12th(24:50.91). Both earned second team All-OVC honors.
Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams return to action at the Southeast Region Championships on Friday, Nov. 14 at E.P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer Park in Louisville, Ky.