Bluegrass Cross Country Invitational Recap
Even before my head hit the pillow on Friday night, I knew it was going to be a great morning of racing in the Bluegrass State. After a relatively hot week, the air finally had that early-fall crisp to it and a cool breeze blew freshly fallen leaves across the ground. THIS was the cross country weather I remembered from high school. Fortunately for runners and spectators alike, that same kind of weather carried over to the morning and we had a perfect day for racing.
Men’s College 8000m Race
Coming into this race, the headline was that the defending NCAA Cross Country champions from Oklahoma State would be attending the meet to compete with Kentucky’s finest. Unfortunately, OSU did not bring their full squad and many of their top athletes. None of that mattered to Eastern Kentucky University, who, from the gun, established themselves as a team not backing down from the competition. Jumping out 1-2-3 was Soufiane Bouchikhi, Wade Meddles, and Ambrose Maritim coming through the 1k in 2:48 (translation: fast). That’s 14:00 5K pace to open an 8K. Their pack of three continued to hold their position through the mile in 4:48. Not to be out-done by their fellow Kentuckians, UL had 2 athletes working together behind the pack in Tyler Byrne and Ernest Kibet. UK also had Adam Kahleifeh and Matt Hillenbrand working together in the top 10. The top group of EKU came through the 5K in 14:35. Now, you might be wondering about those defending NCAA champions. Rest assured, Oklahoma State may not have brought their A team, but without previous knowledge one would have a hard time telling the difference. Led by David Osborn and Chad Noelle, the Cowboys were packed up and making their way through the field the entire race. Bouchikhi was able to hold on for the entire race winning in a time of 23:35. Byrne of UL came in second with 23:47. OSU’s pack came in a 10s window from 24:04-24:14, but their 5th was behind in 24:28. Adam Kahleifeh was the first athlete from a KY high school to cross the finish line in 8th at 24:11. Eastern Kentucky’s front heavy squad walked away with the win over OSU’s pack attack 34-47. UL came in 3rd with 72 and UK took 4th with 111.
Women’s College 5000m Race
The women’s race saw Cally Macumber show everyone why she was an All-American last year for XC. From early on in the race she found herself with only one equal, former Sayre runner Ann Eason. The two came through the 1K in 3:07 followed by another 3:29 kilometer. The pack behind them was constantly shifting positions as Allison Peare of UK, Ashley Svec of EKU, and a host of 4 UL athletes led by Michelle Molodynia fought for third. As the race in front of them continued, Cally Macumber slowly began to pull away from Ann Eason and go on to take the victory in a time of 16:32. Eason still turned in a very noble second place performance dipping under 17 with a 16:58. Peare (17:11) beat out Svec (17:12) for third by little over a second. A mixed contingent of UL and OSU athletes rounded out the top 10. The team battle in this race was much tighter as EKU pulled off the narrow victory over UL 48-51. UK was just behind them with 57 points and OSU rounded out the top 4 with 65.
PS – Shout out to Coach Hawboldt of Tates Creek for letting me ride shotgun in the pace car
PPS – Apologies to Sean Vandermosten and EKUs team for initially incorrectly reporting OSU over EKU.