Special to the Register
For the seventh time in the past eight years, the Eastern Kentucky University men’s and women’s cross country teams swept the OVC Championships on Saturday morning at Eagle Trace Golf Course in Morehead.
It was the EKU men’s team’s 22nd overall and eighth-straight conference title. The Colonels, who entered the meet ranked No. 17 in the most recent U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national poll, cruised to victory, resting several of their top runners and still taking spots one through four to finish with 16 points. Belmont was second with 74 points, while Morehead State (81), Eastern Illinois (107), Southeast Missouri (122), SIUE (153), UT Martin (226), Murray State (251), Austin Peay (258), Jacksonville State (258), Tennessee Tech (278) and Tennessee State (377) rounded out the results.
It was the EKU women’s team’s 27th overall and seventh conference title in the last eight years. The Lady Colonels, who entered the meet ranked No. 7 in the Southeast Region, competed without their top runner, junior Ann Eason, and still won handily with 29 points, defeating their nearest competitor, Belmont (71), by 42 points.
Eastern Illinois (100), SEMO (104), Murray State (115), Austin Peay (173), Jacksonville State (182), SIUE (196), host Morehead State (204), Tennessee Tech (293), UT Martin (322) and Tennessee State (364) rounded out the women’s results.
Long-time EKU head coach Rick Erdmann earned his 20th OVC Men’s Coach of the Year award and 27th OVC Women’s Coach of the Year award following the meet.
Junior Soufiane Bouchikhi became only the fourth runner ever (joining fellow Colonels Grant Colehour, John Nganga and Jacob Korir) to win four-consecutive individual OVC titles, defeating a field of 92 runners with an 8K time of 24:14.06. His victory marks the 10th-straight year that a runner from EKU has won the OVC men’s title. Bouchikhi was 26 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, freshman Ambrose Maritim, who finished second with a time of 24:30.66.
Junior Ben Toroitich (24:35.97) and senior Wade Meddles (24:37.32) finished third and fourth, respectively, while senior Erwin Leysen (24:56.34) finished sixth to round out EKU’s top-five on the day.
All of EKU’s scoring five at the meet earned First-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. 15 in Charlottesville, Va.