An on-the-rise Eastern Kentucky University men’s cross country team will travel to Nashville for Saturday’s Vanderbilt Commodore Classic.
The Colonels improved two spots to No. 27 in this week’s national poll, released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. EKU, No. 2 in the Southeast Region, is the only team from Kentucky or the Ohio Valley Conference to crack the national rankings.
EKU’s improvement in the ratings comes after a dominant showing at the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic. The Colonels defeated 21 teams at Memphis, including regionally-ranked Ole Miss and Memphis. Soufiane Bouchikhi, a junior from Belgium, won the race on a muddy, four-mile course in 20 minutes, 43.95 seconds. Thijs Nijhuis and Ben Toroitich completed a 1-2-3 sweep for EKU, while freshman Amos Kosgey and sophomore Ole Hesselbjerg also placed in the top 10. In all, 13 of the first 22 finishers were Colonels.
EKU and Kentucky have both men’s and women’s teams among the top 15 in the Southeast Region rankings.
The Colonels are second in the men’s region, trailing only North Carolina State. EKU’s women are ranked No. 13 in the Southeast
Other state teams in the men’s regional rankings are Louisville at No. 7, Western Kentucky at 10 and UK at No. 15.
UK has the top-rated women’s team in the state, ranking 10th in the Southeast.
Western will join EKU in Nashville this week, while Louisville will travel to the Winthrop Invitational. UK has a weekend off before heading to Virginia on Sept. 22.
Nationally, the top 10 men’s teams are, in order: Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Brigham Young, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Portland, Iona, Stanford and Florida State. The top team from the Southeastern Conference is No. 15 Texas A&M. The Big East is led by No. 12 Syracuse.
The top 10 women’s teams are: Washington, Oregon, Florida State, Georgetown, Iowa State, Vanderbilt, Providence, Stanford, Arkansas and Villanova.
* Centre College has both of its teams ranked in the Division III South/Southeast Region. The Colonels are No. 3 in the men’s rankings, No. 4 on the women’s side.
Centre’s teams will be off for two weeks, competing next on Sept. 29 in the Greater Louisville Classic.