ETSU men finish second behind Kennesaw State, Women place 10th
DeLAND, Fla. (Oct. 31, 2009) - Senior Kenneth Rotich (Nairobi, Kenya) was busy making history on Saturday at the 2009 Atlantic Sun Cross Country Championships.
The Kenyan sensation became only the seventh runner in conference history to win two A-Sun championships after capturing the 2009 title at the Sperling Sports Complex. Rotich, who won his first title of the 2009 season two weeks ago on the same 8K terrain, beat out USC Upstate's Gilbert Kemboi with a top time of 25:31.
In addition, Rotich joined an elite group of Buccaneer runners to win at least two conference championships in their illustrious careers at ETSU. With the win on Saturday, Rotich became only the sixth ETSU student-athlete to capture multiple championships - joining Adrian Leek (1978, 80), Dennis Stark (1981-83), Brian Dunne (1984-85), James Hynes (1987, 89), and Seamus Power (1990-93).
"It was a bittersweet feeling after the race, because our goal entering the day was to win the team title," said Rotich. "Winning back-to-back individual titles are never easy, so it was gratifying to defend the championship."
"Kenneth ran a solid and smart race, and did a tremendous job to hold off Gilbert Kemboi from USC Upstate," Walker said.
Despite having three runners place in the top 10, it was still not enough firepower for ETSU to bring home its second consecutive A-Sun Championship. Kennesaw State had its five runners place in the top 15, as the Owls claimed their first conference championship since joining the league. Kennesaw State ran away with the title by scoring 40 points, while ETSU posted 82 and USC Upstate finished third with 98 points.
"We got beat by a tough Kennesaw State squad today," commented head ETSU cross country coach David E. Walker. "We knew it was going to be tough to defend our crown, and overall their (Kennesaw) guys were stronger on the course."
Other ETSU notables included Ben Ronoh's (Sotik, Kenya) sixth-place performance and red-shirt senior J Penny's (Jonesborough, Tenn.) ninth-place effort. Ronoh finished the 8K race with a time of 26:05, and Penny followed shortly behind in 26:30.
"J ran an exceptional race and I was very pleased with his effort," said Walker. "Unfortunately, Ben struggled a little bit out there today and finished sixth."
At the post-race ceremonies, three Buccaneer athletes received conference honors. Rotich was named Runner of the Year for the second straight year; while Ronoh received first-team All-Atlantic Sun accolades and Penny was named second team All-Atlantic Sun.
On the women's side, the Lady Bucs were led by junior newcomer Caitlyn Epps (Cookeville, Tenn.). Epps, who was competing in her first conference championship meet of her career, placed a respectable 29th with a time of 19:08.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville won the team championship after racing by Kennesaw State and UNF. The Dolphins scored a total of 43 points and blew by the Owls - who scored 80 points.
Belmont's Brittany Thune won her second straight conference title, as she defeated the field with a time of 17:17.
The Lady Bucs finished 10th as a team.
Rotich and Belmont's Brittany Thune also made conference history, as they became the first athletes to repeat champions in the same season.
The Buccaneer cross country team will return to action on Nov. 14, when ETSU competes in the NCAA Regional in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
For more information on Buccaneer cross country, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.