With Amos Kosgey leading the way, Eastern Kentucky scored a stunning win in Saturday's Bluegrass Invitational cross country meet at Masterson Station Park.
Kosgey, a junior from Eldoret, Kenya, won the 8,000-meter race in 23 minutes, 49.52 seconds.
That helped EKU, ranked 21st nationally, to a team-best 45 points. No. 4 Oklahoma State, which has won three of the past five NCAA championships, was runner-up with 49. Ohio State was third in the 10-team field, followed by Southern Indiana — ranked No. 6 in Division II — and host Kentucky.
"The first two weeks of school, I had shin splints, and I just came to this race hoping I would just finish," said Kosgey, who sat out last season due to injuries. "But I felt good throughout the race, and I'm just happy about it."
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Southern Indiana's Johnnie Guy and Tyler Pence finished 2-3. Then came Ambrose Maritim of EKU.
Kosgey was running in the lead pack with Maritim and teammate Luka Ndungu when he made a decisive move.
"Toward the last two miles, that's when I realized we had two guys in front. ... I told them 'let's just push it with 2 miles to go.'"
The Colonels' first five runners placed 1-4-8-11-21. Coach Rick Erdmann thinks his Colonels will get better.
"I thought we were a little too aggressive early and we were sort of out of control a little bit," Erdmann said. "I think they're going to improve when they race more and become adept, and identify running as a team and that kind of thing."
Matt Hillenbrand was UK's top finisher, in 14th.
"Very young," Coach Edrick Floreal said of his Wildcats. "I think there's still a lot of upside. But overall it's just building a team and building strength when you get a lot of young kids that just don't have the experience or haven't been in the sport long enough to kind of really push them. So it's kind of like the old egg syndrome — you hit them too hard, you'll crack them. But you don't want to break them. So I think we've got a little bit of work to do and a little bit of improvement to make."
Katie Borchers won the women's 5K in 16:35.90, leading Ohio State to the team title with 39 points.
Eastern Kentucky, led by Ann Eason in fourth, was runner-up with 75 points, one ahead of No. 19 Oklahoma State. UK took fourth with 80.
Tennessee's Chelsea Blaase was runner-up, catching UK freshman Aundrea Busse down the stretch.
"Just run hard," was Borchers' plan. "We're not running for three weeks now, so I pushed it to get a good run in.
"I just tried to keep a consistent pace the whole time. My teammates, they all stepped it up today, too. I'm so proud of them."
In the high school divisions, hosted by Tates Creek, Lexington Catholic sophomore Michaela Reinhart won the girls' 5K in 18:44.71, while Eric Baugh of Villa Madonna won the boys' race in 15:21.78.
Girls' runner-up Jensen Bales paced Ryle to the team championship with 44 points. Lindbergh (Mo.) was runner-up with 81, followed by Tates Creek with 107.
"Usually I just kind of go out and, during the race, I figure out who the competition is," Reinhart said. "Then I just try to surge at the right moment — like up a hill or on a long straightaway."
Reinhart's decisive move this time came about 1¼ miles into the race.
In the boys' race, Baugh was looking for a personal record, which he got by four seconds. He held off Tates Creek's Ben Young and North Hardin's Robert Rupp.
Cabell Midland (W.Va.) took team honors with 63 points. Tates Creek edged Ryle 113-115 for second place.