Rotich named A-Sun Runner of the Year, Walker Coach of the Year
On Saturday morning, the ETSU men's cross country team snapped Belmont's six-year run as conference champions, and the Buccaneers went to win their first-ever A-Sun crown at the grounds of the Georgia Industrial Children's Home in Macon.
With the win, ETSU moved its running total of conference championships to the magic number of 21 (15 SoCon, five Ohio Valley, one A-Sun); marking its first title since head coach David E. Walker's club won the 1996 SoCon crown.
"We ran as a team today and in the end the hard work paid off," said
As a team the Bucs put together a dominating race and were led up front by cousins Kenneth Rotich (
"We had hope from the beginning that we were going to win conference after the work we have been doing all season," Rotich said. "We have been training so hard and we have been working for it."
Rotich now joins the elite grouping of Neil Cusack, Brian Dunne, Mark Finucane, Ed Leddy, Adrian Leek, Louis Kenny, Dennis Stark, Seamus Power and Derek Murphy to claim an individual conference championship during their ETSU cross country career.
"Both Kenneth and Ben broke through the pack and controlled the pace midway throughout the race," commented coach Walker. "Once Ben and Kenneth led up front, both runners made sure they would not be touched and each ran a solid race. I am very proud of them, especially Kenneth, for working hard and winning the conference championship."
Despite Rotich and Ronoh leading up front, the storyline of the race came from the senior leadership of
Deren found himself fall from third to eighth during the race, but dug deep in the last final 400 meters to pass three runners and claim a fifth-place finish, as he crossed the line in 24:52. Behind Deren was Crane, who could have also posted a top-5 finish, but in the middle of the race he noticed junior J Penny (
"Both Crane and Deren showed their leadership on the course today,"
Crane battled through a difficult final season after having knee surgery prior to the season, but he gave it everything he had on Saturday, as the
The Buccaneers knew the course like the back of their hand as ETSU won the Mercer RunFit Sports Invitational back in late September, which they used that to its advantage.
"Running on this same course back in September gave us an upper edge on
As a team, ETSU and Belmont made it a two-team race, as the Buccaneers edged out the Bruins - 29 to 35.
At the post-race ceremony, six Buccaneer members received conference honors. Rotich, who garnered three A-Sun Runner of the Week awards during the year, was named Runner of the Year,
On the women's side,
ETSU was led by sophomore Tesha Haggard (
"Tesha turned in a lifetime best today and finished one spot shy of collecting all-conference honors," said coach Walker. "She performed very well and hopefully she can continue to build off this success."
Other ETSU notables included sophomore Terra Haggard (
The Buccaneer cross country teams will be back in action when they head to
For more information on Buccaneer cross country, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.