Special to the Register
The Eastern Kentucky University men’s cross country team finished second while the women’s team finished third at the University of Virginia / Panorama Farms Invitational on Saturday.
The EKU men’s team came into the weekend ranked No. 11 in the country, but the Colonels were running without two of their top runners, junior Ben Toroitich and sophomore Amos Kosgey. EKU finished with 76 points, defeating host Virginia, ranked No. 16 country, as well as Duke (No. 6 in the Southeast Region), Auburn (No. 5 in the South Region), Liberty (No. 8 in the Southeast Region), Virginia Tech (No. 9 in the Southeast Region), California (No. 8 in the West Region) and five other teams. North Carolina, ranked No. 4 in the Southeast, scored 58 points and was the only team to top the Colonels.
Individually, senior Soufiane Bouchikhi was the top runner at the event, and it was not even close. For the second consecutive meet, Bouchikhi ran away from the field, covering the 8K course in a time of 23:22.4 and defeating the second-place finisher, Virginia Tech’s Leoule Degfae, by 28 seconds. Newcomer Ambrose Maritim was the Colonels’ second finisher, placing sixth out of 102 runners with a time of 23:57.0. Senior Wade Meddles (17th / 24:09.2) and juniors Ole Hesselbjerg (25th / 24:18.1) and Thijs Nijhuis (27th / 24:19.6) rounded out Eastern’s scoring five.
On the women’s side, EKU, ranked No. 6 in the Southeast Region, scored 118 points and fell only to host Virginia (42 points / No. 5 in the Southeast Region) and William and Mary (67 points / No. 2 in the Southeast Region). The Colonels defeated a team ranked above them in the region, North Carolina (No. 4), as well as Harvard (No. 5 in the Northeast Region), Ole Miss (No. 6 in the South Region) and Auburn (No. 8 in the South Region).
Junior Ann Eason led the way once again for the women, finishing fifth out of 117 runners while completing the 5K course in a time of 16:58.3. Senior Una Britton, meanwhile, was second on the team with a 22nd place finish in a time of 17:39.7. Sophomores Cecile Chevillard (26th / 17:43.9) and Ashley Svec (32nd / 18:01.8) and junior Anna Reddin (33rd (18:08.3) rounded out the Colonels’ top five.
The EKU cross country teams will split up next weekend as the men compete at the Notre Dame Invitational (Oct. 4) and the women compete at the Greater Louisville Classic (Oct. 5).