Rotich cruises his way to the crown in Charlotte
Saturday, September 13, 2008

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 13, 2008) - If there is one word to describe Kenneth Rotich's (Nairobi, Kenya) ETSU cross country career thus far, it would be consistent.


On Saturday, the Kenyan sensation kept the rhythm going, as he cruised his way to victory at Charlotte's Bojangles Invitational, marking his third collegiate win with the Bucs. Since his freshman season, in 2006, Rotich has tallied six top-10 finishes (11 total races), and has claimed three Atlantic Sun Runner of the Week honors.


Despite battling wet and dangerous conditions, Rotich found a way to persevere and dominate the 89-man field. Rotich, who finished the 8K race in 25:22, had to wait 34 seconds for the second competitor to complete the rugged course.


"Kenneth ran a tremendous race under extremely challenging and difficult ground conditions," commented associate head cross country coach Michelle Byrne. "He started very strong, pulled away from the pack, and came away with a dominating victory."


ETSU also received an outstanding effort from Rotich's cousin, Ben Ronoh (Sotik, Kenya). The transfer from Milligan ended the race in third with a time of 26:12. Senior Michael Deren (Blasdell, N.Y.) placed 14th and r-junior J Penny (Jonesborough, Tenn.) ended the day in 16th, but another highlight for the Bucs came from sophomore Manny Gonzalez (Bryan, Ohio). Gonzalez showcased his best race as a Buccaneer, finishing 18th overall, with a time of 27:19.


"Both Ben and Manny ran very well for us today," commented Byrne. "This was the best I have seen Manny race since being apart of our team, and hopefully he can continue to get stronger as the season progresses." 


As a team, the Buccaneers were nipped by the host 49ers for the title. Charlotte finished with 45 points, while ETSU ended with 52.


"We are disappointed that we did not get the top spot on the team side; however, I did see a lot of positives today, especially towards the back," added Byrne.


On the women's side, ETSU finished a respectable sixth overall. The 49ers made it a clean sweep as Charlotte took home both the team and individual crown.


"With the young group of women we have, I thought our finish was respectable," said Byrne. "Like the men, we need to have our runners in the back to work harder and close the gap."


Newcomer Victoria Jones (Marshall, N.C.) was the first Buccaneer runner to cross the finish line. The rookie posted of time of 21:16, which placed her 31st overall. Sophomore Tesha Haggard (Morristown, Tenn.) finished four spots behind her teammate, with a mark of 21:28. Rounding out the top-three for ETSU was sister Terra Haggard (Morristown, Tenn.), who ended the 5K race in 41st.


"Victoria is a very talented runner and I am delighted from what I saw in her performance today," said Byrne. "I think she will become a lot more comfortable and continue to improve once she gets more races under her belt."


The ETSU cross country team returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 27, when the Buccaneers head down to Macon, Ga. to compete in the Mercer Invitational.


For more information on Buccaneer cross country, visit