OVC Cross Country Championship Set for Saturday

Wednesday, October 29 2008 - OVC Championships

Courtesy: Ohio Valley Conference Release: 10/29/2008
View larger Courtesy: Ohio Valley Conference

On Saturday, November 1 the 2008 cross country regular season will come to a close at the Jaycee Golf Course in Cape Girardeau, Mo., home of the 2008 Ohio Valley Conference Cross Country Championships.  The women will run first, beginning at 9:00 a.m. central standard time, with the men following at 9:45 a.m.   


Going into the conference championship, there are four men’s teams ranked in the top 15 in their respected regions. Conference powerhouse Eastern Kentucky is currently fourth in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s (USTFCCCA) Southeast Region while Morehead State slipped into the polls last week at 14th, also in the Southeast Region. Seven-time OVC champion Eastern Illinois and Southeast Missouri are 15th and 11th respectively in the USTFCCCA Midwest Region poll.  


The women’s championship will feature top talent headliners like Tennessee Tech’s Stephanie Place, who has five of the top nine best 5k times ran in the OVC this season, and Bertha Castillo, who along with Place, will be one of two runners in the championship to finish the 5K under 18 minutes this season. 


Men’s Preview


Austin Peay’s men, again this season, will be led by Tim Hall, who was the Governors top runner in all but one meet this season. Ryne Sexton also had a good season and led APSU at the Earl Jacoby Memorial in Huntsville, Ala. in September. 


Eastern Illinois, who has three top five finishes this year, will be led by senior Brad Butler, who has been the top runner for the Panthers in every competition this season.  Butler has three 8K runs under 26 minutes and has two individual top five finishes. 


Eastern Kentucky, the two-time defending champions, will once again be the favorite to win the men’s cross country championship, despite having the replace four-time OVC Runner of the Year Jacob Korir.  EKU will be led by a trio of feature runners. Joseph Maina has three top five finishes this season and holds the two best 8K finishes posted in the OVC. Evans Kiptoo and Stanley Mugo also ran well for the Colonels and have consistently ran sub-25 minute 8K races this season.


Jacksonville State will look to senior Jeff Rhodes and sophomore George Kapalgat to pace the Gamecocks at the conference championship.  Each has a first place finish this season and completed 8K races in less than 25 minutes.  


Morehead State has a pair of top five finishes and a regional ranking heading into the conference championship.  Ron Duncan has led the way for the Eagles and posted a pair of second place finishes this season.  Morehead State is fresh off a strong finish at pre-nationals and looks to carry the momentum to Cape Girardeau. 


Murray State will rely on the legs of Andrew Beckman and Jordan Nikolaisen this weekend.  Each runner as led the Racers in multiple meets this season with Nikolaisen posted the best 8K time at just over 26 minutes.


The 11th ranked Southeast Missouri State squad has four top five finishes this season and features one of the league’s most consistent runners in Brandon Karcher.  Karcher has three top five finishes and posted a season best 24:37 8K run at the Greater Louisville Classic in early October. 


Tennessee State is led by Anes Koko, who has led the Tigers in every race this season. Koko’s highlight this season was a fourth place finish recorded at the Clark/Morehouse Classic in Atlanta in September. 


Tennessee Tech will feature a balanced field led by sophomore Sam Taylor. The Golden Eagles have had three different lead runners this season with junior Joseph DeLorenzo posting the best 8K time at 26:24. 


Lucas Massey and Allen Thurman will carry the Skyhawks in the conference championships.  Lucas Massey finished the season strong in UT Martin’s last competition, The Evansville Invitational, posting an 8K time of 26:28. 


Women’s Preview  


Austin Peay ran in several competitive events this season, notching three top five finishes. Castillo finished in the top 10 in four of the team’s six races and posted a 17:43 5K at the Tiger Invitational in Auburn, Ala., only nine seconds behind the conference’s fastest time. 


Eastern Illinois will be led by junior Erin O’Grady and sophomore Caitlin Napoleoni. Each runner has paced the Panthers this season with O’Grady recording the best 5K time at 18:55.


Eastern Kentucky, the two-time defending champion at the championship, has had three different top runners in five races this season.  They are led by sophomore Kat Pagano, who posted the team’s best 5K finish, 18:11, at the Greater Louisville Classic this season. Barbara Phelan and Marla Doerger also paced the Colonels, each notching top five finishes. 


Jacksonville State will be led by Lesley Binning, who posted a pair 18-minute times in 5K races this season. Binning led the Gamecocks in four of the team’s five races; Veronica Citireag posted the team’s top finish in their final race, the JSU Foothills Invitational. 


Morehead State will look to junior Alexis King to lead the way at the Conference Championships.  King has been the Eagles’ top runner in each of the team’s four meets this season. 


Murray State is coming off of a solid third place finish, out of 19 teams, at the Evansville Invitational in Evansville, Ind.  Sophomore Katelyn Jones has been the Racers’ frontrunner in each of the last three races and has posted progressively faster times in each race.  Murray State runners Alaina Zanin and Karissa Magnuson also recorded top finishes for the Racers this season. 


Southeast Missouri will be led by Juli Koenegstein, who has posted the top finish for the Redhawks in each of the last four races. SEMO is looking to finish the season strong in front of their home crowd.


Tennessee State will be led by junior Jaleeca Jacobs and senior Rahab Kagaruki.  Each has led the tigers in multiple events this season.


Tennessee Tech will be led by Place, this season’s most accomplished runner. She has five of the top nine fastest 5K finishes this season and has finished in the top three in all five of her races. Tech has three top five team finishes this season, including two meets with more than 16 teams.


UT Martin will be led by sophomore Allie Proctor and junior Shannon Wall. Each has paced the Skyhawks this season and look to make UT Martin a factor in the Conference Championships.