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EKU's Eason outruns idol Macumber to win women's 5,000 meters at Greater Louisville Classic

Ann Eason, an Eastern Kentucky University junior out of Sayre High School, powered to victory over Kentucky’s Macumber, the reigning Southeastern Conference champion, in the Greater Louisville Classic Cross Country Invitational at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park.
Ann Eason, an Eastern Kentucky University junior out of Sayre High School, powered to victory over Kentucky’s Macumber, the reigning Southeastern Conference champion, in the Greater Louisville Classic Cross Country Invitational at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park. Herald-Leader

LOUISVILLE — Ann Eason has long admired Cally Macumber.

The feeling is mutual, especially after Saturday's Greater Louisville Classic Cross Country Invitational at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park.

Eason, an Eastern Kentucky University junior out of Sayre High School, powered to victory over Kentucky's Macumber, the reigning Southeastern Conference champion.

"It's going to sound corny, but (Macumber) is really like my running idol," Eason said after covering the 5,000-meter course in 16 minutes, 51.39 seconds. "I look up to her, with all the success she's had and where she came from. She works incredibly hard and she's just so talented, so just to be able to run next to her is kind of mind-blowing to me."

Macumber, second in 16:57.75, expressed a mutual admiration.

"She's a great runner, too, and I look up to her as well," Macumber said of Eason. "She's really improved over the last couple of years. You have to respect anyone that works hard and gets better."

With 112 colleges and universities from 20 states represented, it was a Canadian school — Guelph — sweeping the Gold (fastest) Division women's and men's team titles. The Gryphons women scored 49 points, with Kentucky a distant second with 130. Guelph's men totaled 60, followed by Louisville with 100.

Tennessee's Peter Okwera prevailed in the men's 8,000-meter race in 24:20.39. U of L's Ernest Kibet was runner-up in 24:22.10.

As for Eason, she set her sites on Macumber.

"I just wanted to go out there and stick with her as long as possible," Eason said. "Went through a mile pretty slow (5:26), slower than I have in the past two races, so I felt like I might as well go now and test myself a little bit. I felt good, so I just kept pushing it."

Eason opened a small gap about halfway through the race and never let up.

"Not the happiest I've been, but it's OK," Macumber said. "We raced last week (at Oklahoma State) and I just was tired today. It's OK."

Men's winner Okwera was feeling lucky to be running at all. The junior from Uganda was riding a bike Sept. 18 when he was struck by a car.

"Wrecked it completely," he said of the bike. "But still, with God's grace, I was able to just jump on the side and I was safe."

He suffered a deep bone bruise near his hip, stopped running for a week and a half, and came back feeling fresh.

"I came into this race thinking that I would be working out," he said. "But after the first two miles, I thought I could do something more productive than just training. So I decided I needed to step up the pace.. ... All in all, I'm really excited that I was able to get in a quality work."

In the high school invitational portion of the Classic, Sophia Racette's first-place finish (18:25.99) led Nerinx Hall (Mo.) to the girls' team title.

Portland Christian's Jonathan Taylor won the boys' 5K (16:08.09), while Cabell Midland (W.Va.) took team honors.


Gold Division teams—Guelph 60; Louisville 100; Southern Ind. 129; Tennessee 152; Washington University 227; East Tenn. St. 304; Edinboro 311; Ga. Tech 311; St. Francis (Ill.) 321; Fla. A&M 333; Texas A&M 338; Morehead St. 360; Ferris St.. 378; Eastern Ky. 392; Campbell 411; St. Louis 414; Chattanooga 416; Davidson 465; Southeast Mo. 508; Indianapolis 544; Northern Ky. 561; Wis.-Milwaukee 578; Marquette 585; Samford 589; Bryan 592; Slippery Rock 680; Kentucky 688; Carnegie Mellon 696; Detroit Mercy 733; Western Ontario 747; Western Ky. 856.

Individuals (8,000 meters)—Peter Okwera, Tenn., 24:20.39;; Ernest Kibet, Lvl., 24:22.10; Johnnie Guy, So. Ind., 24:23.77; Tyler Pence, So. Ind., 24:34.29; Ross Proudfoot, Guelph, 24:39.15; Luis Vargas, Elon, 24:39.44; Yves Sikubwabo, Guelph, 24:42.31; Lucas Cotter, Chattanooga, 24:44.11; Isaac Spencer, Texas A&M, 24:44.86; Aaron Hendrikx, Guelph, 24:45.20; Michael Jordan, unattached, 24:47.72; Tyler Byrne, Lvl., 24:48.01; Tristan Woodfine, Guelph, 24:51.00; Mike Blalszczyk, St. Francis, 24:53.50; Andrew Padgett, Wash., 24:56.76; Kevin Sparks, Wash., 24:57.36; Ryan Noel-Hodge, unattached, 25:00.37; J.J. Webber, Northern Ky., 25:03.81; Kevin Marindich, Fla. A&M, 25:07.07; Mattias Wolter, Lvl., 25:07.75.


Gold Division teams—Guelph 49; Kentucky 130; Texas A&M 131; Eastern Ky. 176; Louisville 197; Miami (Ohio) 229; Tennessee 233; Western Ontario 280; Arkansas St. 312; St. Louis 326; Marquette 343; Elon 352; Edinboro 368; Ga. Tech 389; Western Ky. 440; Vanderbilt 446; Southern Ind. 492; Washington U. 507; Middle Tenn. St. 512; St. Francis (Ill.) 516; Ferris St. 527; Seton Hill 556; Southeast Mo. 595; East Tenn. St. 633; Murray St. 638; Ga. St. 663; Tampa 679; Wis.-Parkside 687; Wis.-Milwaukee 721; Slippery Rock 750; Indianapolis 755; Morehead St. 783.

Individuals (5,000 meters)—Ann Eason, Eastern Ky., 16:51.39; Cally Macumber, Ky., 16:57.75; Kristina Aubert, Ark. St., 17:09.33; Gen Lalonde, Guelph, 17:13.95; Madeline Yungblut, Guelph, 17:21.54; Alexis Panisse, Tenn., 17:23.50; Allison Peare, Ky., 17:24.67; Margo Richardson, St. Louis, 17:26.14; Emily Frith, Bellarmine, 17:26.72; Hillary Montgomery, Texas A&M, 17:26.90; Carise Thompson, Guelph, 17:2895; Jess Hoover, Miami, 17:31.05; Heather Petrick, Guelph, 17:31.90; Samantha Johnson, Ferris St., 17:32.11; Karis Jochen, Texas A&M, 17:36.02; Sarah Krolick, Edinboro, 17:37.44; Cassidy Hale, Ky., 17:40.77; Katie Hirko, East Tenn. St., 17:41.10; Katrina Allison, Guelph, 17:42.61; Sophie Blake, Texas A&M, 17:44.11.


Teams—Cabell Midland 124; North Hardin 164; Pulaski Co. 205; Oldham Co. 214; Eastern 215; Sovereign Grace 226; Grayson Co. 251; Manual 252; Univ. School of Nashville 296; Wayne Co. 310; Bullitt East 324; Apollo 358; Greenwood 380; Oldenburg 451; Webster Co. 455; South Warren 522; Walton Verona 527; Butler 545; Shelby Co. 562; Conner 569; Henry Clay 585; Atherton 607; St. Mary 616; Clayton 632; Scott Co. 647; Trimble Co. 656; Spencer Co. 673; Muhlenberg Co. 715; Lexington Christian 719; Lutheran 721; Ballard 754; Lvl. Holy Cross 790; Woodford Co. 801; Garrard Co. 835; White House 848; Collegiate 931.

Individuals—Jonathan Taylor, Portland Christian, 16:08.09; Bret Crawford, Grayson Co., 16:17.34; Chase Geary, Muhlenberg Co., 16:20.66; Tristan Durbin, Apollo, 16:23.70; Holden Wells, Eastern, 16:33.30; Keith Prive, Greenwood, 16:34.32; Adam Sandidge, LaRue Co., 16:35.89; Nicholas Waltman, Sayre, 16:40.45; Trevor Shearer, Wayne Co., 16:40.95; Tyler Lega, Oldham Co., 16:41.51.


Teams—Nerix Hall 54; Oldenburg 149; Manual 151; Oldham Co. 156; Bullitt East 161; Woodford Co. 253; Ryle 286; Male 297; Butler 322; Cabell Midland 342; Clayton 350; Presentation 350; Christian Academy Louisville 362; Sovereign Grace 395; Eastern 445; Pulaski Co. 494; Henry Clay 504; Lutheran 512; South Warren 528; Lvl. Holy Cross 537; Murray 560; Webster Co. 586; Univ. School of Nashville 604; Greenwood 661; McCracken Co. 664; Wayne Co. 696; Conner 722; Trimble Co. 735; Atherton 752; Shelby Co. 767; Scott Co. 779; White House 800; Western Hills 871; Muhlenberg Co. 888; Ballard 893; Grayson Co. 928.

Individuals—Sophia Racette, Nerinx Hall, 18:25.99; Caroline Grogan, Oldham Co., 18:28.51; Sarah Billingsley, Oldenburg, 18:48.51; Courtney Rogers, Lutheran, 19:07.33; Katie Anderson, Nerinx Hall, 19:09.76; Maddox Patterson, Sayre, 19:17.33; Caroline Gosser, Presentation, 19:18.18; Meagan Smith, Danville, 19:27.19; Caroline Haas, South Warren, 19:27.28; Karly Gawarecki, Lvl. Holy Cross, 19:32.81.