Women's Cross Country Picked As OVC Favorite

Tuesday, August 21 2012


2011 OVC XC Champs EIU Women

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Returning a large portion of its 2011 championship team to compete for this year, Eastern Illinois women's cross country was tabbed as the preseason favorite in a vote of the Ohio Valley Conference's head cross country coaches.  The title by the Panther women was the program's second overall and first since 2001. The EIU men were picked second in the men's poll.

The Eastern Kentucky men's team was picked as the favorite for the 2012 season after claiming its sixth straight and 20th overall team title last year. 

On the men's side Eastern Kentucky (121 points, 11 first-place votes) was followed by Eastern Illinois (103), Southeast Missouri (99), newcomer Belmont (93, 1 first-place vote), SIUE (73), Morehead State (72), Jacksonville State (57), UT Martin (51), Tennessee Tech (41), Austin Peay (39), Murray State (26) and Tennessee State (17).

On the women's side Eastern Illinois (116 points, 7 first-place votes) was followed by Eastern Kentucky (110 points, 3 first-place votes), Belmont (96 points, 2 first-place votes), Southeast Missouri (89), Murray State (85), Morehead State (68), Jacksonville State (58), SIUE (57), Austin Peay (45), UT Martin (32), Tennessee Tech (25) and Tennessee State (11).

This will mark the first season that Belmont and SIUE will compete in the OVC Championship, giving the league 12 cross country teams for the first time in league history. Belmont became an official member of the OVC on July 1, 2012, while SIUE officially joined the league in July 2008 but just completed its reclassification process to Division I this summer.

The 2012 Ohio Valley Conference Cross Country Championships will be held October 27 at the Oxford Lake & Recreation Area in Oxford, Ala. with Jacksonville State University serving as the host. The first regular season action of the 2012 season occurs the first weekend of September.


Last year Eastern Illinois placed each of its top five runners in the Top 14 overall, earning a convincing victory at the OVC Championship in ending Eastern Kentucky's five-year reign as champions. This season the Panthers return a senior-dominated lineup that includes Erika Ramos (4th a year ago), Olivia Klaus (5th), Britney Whitehead (11th) and Gaby Duenas (14th).

Eastern Kentucky will be in search of its 26th overall OVC Championship this season but will do so without the first and third place overall finishers from last season. The year's version of the Colonels team includes sophomore Ann Eason, who was 9th a season ago at the Championship.

Belmont hosted and finished third at the Atlantic Sun Championship in 2011. The Bruins were paced by Mia Elbon, who placed seventh overall in earning Freshman of the Year honors.

Southeast Missouri State placed third at the OVC Championship last season and returns sophomores Rebekah Lawson and Jenny Govero this year. Lawson placed sixth and Govero 12th at the Championship in 2011.

The top individual returner from last season is Jacksonville State sophomore Giselle Slotboom. Slotboom earned OVC Freshman of the Year honors by placing second overall in a 5K time of 18:00.58. She would go on to finish 21st at the NCAA South Regional.

(as voted on by the OVC head cross country coaches)

TEAM                                                               POINTS
  1. Eastern Illinois (7 first-place votes)               116
  2. Eastern Kentucky (3)                                   110
  3. Belmont (2)                                                 96
  4. Southeast Missouri                                      89
  5. Murray State                                               85
  6. Morehead State                                           68
  7. Jacksonville State                                       58
  8. SIUE                                                           57
  9. Austin Peay                                                45
10.  UT Martin                                                    32
11.  Tennessee Tech                                          25
12.  Tennessee State                                          11                    

(Teams awarded 11 points for a first-place vote, 10 for second, etc.)


Eastern Kentucky junior Soufiane Bouchikhi returns as the two-time defending OVC Champion; Bouchikhi covered the 8K course in 24:54.83 last year and went on to finish 47th at the NCAA Cross Country Championship. His performance helped the nationally-ranked Colonels to a 26th place team finish at the event, as EKU was the first OVC team to qualify for the National Championship since the 1980 season.  Also returning for the Colonels is junior Adams Ronnoh, who was second at the OVC Championship last year, 2011 OVC Freshman of the Year Thijs Nijhuis (who was 5th at the Championship) and senior Daniel Jones (who finished 6th a season ago).

Eastern Illinois was the OVC runner-up a season ago. Despite losing its top runner from last year, the Panthers do return sophomore Bryce Basting, who finished 11th last year, and juniorDanny Delaney, who finished 14th to earn second-team All-OVC honors.

Southeast Missouri was just three points out of second place a year ago and the Redhawks return senior Nate Shipley who was third at the OVC Championship last year in a time of 25:32.54. Shipley was the OVC Freshman of the Year in 2008. Also back is junior Brent Collins who earned second-team All-OVC honors last year by placing 10th.

In its final year in the Atlantic Sun in 2011, Belmont hosted and finished third at the league championship, placing five runners in the top 23 overall. Now senior Matt Miller led the way for the Bruins by placing fourth overall in that event.

(as voted on by the OVC head cross country coaches)

TEAM                                                               POINTS
  1. Eastern Kentucky (11 first-place votes)         121
  2. Eastern Illinois                                             103
  3. Southeast Missouri                                      99        
  4. Belmont (1)                                                 93
  5. SIUE                                                           73
  6. Morehead State                                           72
  7. Jacksonville State                                       57
  8. UT Martin                                                    51
  9. Tennessee Tech                                          41
10.  Austin Peay                                                39
11.  Murray State                                               26
12.  Tennessee State                                          17

(Teams awarded 11 points for a first-place vote, 10 for second, etc.)