In only its second year of existence, the Bluegrass Cross Country invitational has already earned a reputation. Notable for fast times, strong competition, and hotly debated validity (more on that in a minute) this was a meet I’ve had on my coverage radar for some time. Last year’s meet saw a battle down to the wire between John Spencer of Lafayette and Eric Baugh of Villa Madonna with both PRing in the mid-to-low 15’s. This year was hoping to produce more of the same, adding several more to the “sub-16” club. To ensure legitimacy of the course Coach Hawboldt of Tates Creek confirmed that no less than 3 separate entities measured the course: The University of Kentucky, Lindburgh High School (St. Louis MO), and himself. Each gave measurements within 1% accuracy of 5000m.
College Men’s 8K
The day started off with the Collegiate Men’s race. The temperatures were cool and the sun was hidden beneath a blanket of clouds for the opening race. It was clear from the start that, as they usually are, this collegiate race was much more tactical than high school races. Throughout the first several miles of the race, many athletes were packed together at the front. In that front group was Amos Kosgey, Ambrose Maritim, Luka Ndungu, and Ronald Korir all from EKU, Johnnie Guy of Southern Indiana, JJ Webber of NKU, and Matt Hillenbrand of UK. It wasn’t until the 5K point that the pack began to separate and Kosgey, Maritim, Ndungu, and Guy began to push the pace. Even as that group moved up, other competitors were finding their stride on the latter half of the course, whereas most athletes in high school run slower splits as the race goes on. Tyler Pence of Southern Indiana, and Luiz Martinez and David Osborn from Oklahoma State did not start toward the very front of the pack, but moved well over the last 5K, especially. Coming back down to the soccer fields, Kosgey had separated himself from the remainder of the competitors and was able to push his way to victory in a 23:49. Guy was able to hang on for 2nd in 24:01 with his teammate Pence, closing the gap in the last mile to earn 3rd with a 24:07.
The team race came down to the wire and for a 2nd year in a row, EKU was able to earn a victory over Oklahoma State 45-48. The Ohio State University had a solid performance from their entire team and scored 92 points for 3rd.
College Women’s 5K
The next race of the day was the Collegiate Women’s race. In a different vane from the guys race, even before the mile two competitors had already separated themselves from the pack. Katie Borchers of Ohio State University and Aundrea Busse of UK were already a couple meters ahead of the rest of the pack, which essentially consisted of Ohio State runners with Chelsea Blaase of Tennessee in the mix as well. After another kilometer and headed up the hill, Busse was still tucked in behind Borchers and trying to feed off of her pace setting. Behind them, Ohio State’s back had been breeched and Blaase was now in a comfortable 3rd. Coming back down to the soccer fields, Borchers had separated herself a little further from Busse, who was still hanging on with a shot at the lead. Blaase was still in 3rd, but it was now Ann Eason how had made a huge move during the 1.5-2.5 mile markers to gain about 10 spots and get herself into 4th. Borchers was able to close out her victory in a time of 16:35, but behind her there was some shifting. Busse was overtaken by Blaase, who earned 2nd in 16:44, and came in 3rd with a 16:50.
Ohio State’s pack attack combined with Borchers’ 1st place finish was too much for the rest of the field, and they won the meet with a score of 39. Eastern Kentucky squeezed out a narrow runner-up finish over Oklahoma State 75-76.