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EKU cross country finishes 26th in first NCAA appearance

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Some cross country coaches never make it to the NCAA Cross Country Championships.

Rick Erdmann, in his 33rd year at Eastern Kentucky, did so Monday.

His Colonels finished 26th in the nation.

In addition, EKU senior Lydia Kosgei earned All-America honors in the women's race.

"I think we obviously could have done better," Erdmann said of his men, who entered the meet ranked 19th in the nation. "But we didn't run very well (individuals) four, five, six seven. We got beat by some teams that we beat earlier in the year — Ohio State, Notre Dame, Tulsa. ... But maybe (we put) so much effort in the regional."

Top-ranked Wisconsin won the men's team title with 97 points. Two-time defending champion Oklahoma State placed second with 139, five ahead of Colorado.

EKU scored 589 and beat, among others, both Southeastern Conference entrants. Georgia came in 29th, and Florida finished 30th,

"I hope it's a positive," Erdmann said of EKU's result, "and to keep moving in the right direction."

Soufiane Bouchikhi led EKU, placing 47th — seven spots shy of All-America status.

His time for 10,000 meters a the LaVern Gibson Championship Course: 30:20.7.

"I'm disappointed but, at the same time, I'm pretty happy that we got here as a team," Bouchikhi said. "That's a good thing.

"I'm happy to be a part of it. The team that we have this year is really awesome."

Arizona freshman Lawi Lalang completed an undefeated season, winning by more than 13 seconds in 28:44.1.

The pace was wicked from the start — a 4:28 first mile — as a chilly mist permeated the field.

"My start was really good, but I just couldn't recover from it because I felt like I was going too hard," Bouchiki said. "From the beginning, there was no moment where you could kind of push the brake and just relax a little bit. Because those guys were going hard and kept going harder."

Following Bouchikhi in the Colonels' lineup were Ben Cheruiyot (83rd), Peter Sigilai (184), Evans Kiptoo (208) and Adams Ronnoh (209). Then came Thijs Nijhuis (230) and David Mutuse (244). Mutuse is a past champion in Lexington's Bluegrass 10,000 and Midsummer Night's Run.

In the women's race, Villanova's Sheila Reid edged Oregon's Jordan Hasay by six-tenths of a second, in 19:41.2 for 6,000 meters.

Kosgei, a senior, placed 37th in 20:27.7.

"It was cold. The course was tough," she said. "Tough course and tough people."

■ Western Kentucky senior Marion Kandie finished 152nd in the women's race.

"I didn't feel well today," she said. "I felt fatigue in my legs. ... I ran to finish the race. I tried, but I didn't run my best race."

■ Georgetown University won the women's team title with 162 points, followed by Washington with 170. Then came two-time defending champion Villanova with 181 and top-ranked Florida State at 189.