Cross country runners from Berea College and Eastern Kentucky University are set to compete for national titles on Saturday.
The Berea College men’s team finished second last weekend at the NCAA Division III South/Southeastern Region, while EKU freshman Ezekiel Rop qualified for the NCAA Division I Meet with a strong individual performance at the Southeast Regional.
The Mountaineers are back in the national championship for the second-straight season.
Berea College finished with 94 points last weekend at the regional competition in Memphis. The runner-up finish is the best in school history and earned the program an automatic bid to the national championship.
Sophomore Sair Salgado led the way for Berea. He finished 10th place in a time of 25:24.
Senior Tanner Carson placed 16th in a time of 25:42 and freshman Luke Wilson placed 17th (25:44).
Sophomore Tyler Little had a time of 25:51 to place 22nd. Senior Logan McKenzie was 29th (26:00).
Salgado, Carson, Wilson, Little, and McKenzie each earned All-Region honors.
Also competing for the Mountaineers were sophomore Avery Fair (38th, 26:18) and senior Caleb Flege (162nd, 28:37).
The Mountaineers will travel Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville on Saturday in compete in the NCAA Division III National Championship.
The Mountaineers finished 24th last season.
EKU’s Rop qualified for the Division I National Championship by finishing eighth at the NCAA Southeast Regional on Friday in Charlottesville. He covered the 10K course at Panorama Farms in a time of 29:58.3.
The native of Eldoret, Kenya is one of 38 at-large individuals from around the country selected to compete at the NCAA Championships.
Rop was voted the OVC Male Cross Country Athlete of the Year on Nov. 1. The next day, he won the OVC individual title with an 8K time of 24:35.4. His performance led the Colonels to their 14th-straight conference crown.
Rop is the 14th Colonel all-time to qualify as an individual for the NCAA Men’s Cross Country Championship and the first since Erick Rotich in 2016.
EKU has now had representation at the NCAA Cross Country Championships 15 of the last 16 years.