NEW ORLEANS – The Eastern Kentucky University men’s cross country team is now the top-ranked team in the NCAA Southeast Region, per the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll released on Monday.
The EKU women, meanwhile, stayed put at No. 3 in the Southeast Region rankings.
The men’s team took over the top spot in the Southeast after rolling to its 13th consecutive Ohio Valley Conference title on Saturday in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The Colonels put seven runners in the top-14. Individual champion James Sugira crushed the field, winning by 36 seconds with an OVC Championships 8K record of 23:31.6.
It is the first time the EKU men have been ranked No. 1 in the Southeast Region since Week 4 of 2016.
The Southeast Region consists of all Division-I schools from Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The Colonels are ranked ahead of such notable teams as N.C. State (No. 3), Virginia (No. 4), Wake Forest (No. 5), Virginia Tech (No. 6), Kentucky (No. 7), Duke (No. 8), North Carolina (No. 9) and Louisville (No. 11).
EKU was ranked No. 19 nationally by the USTFCCCA before Saturday’s race. Updated national rankings will be released on Tuesday.
Sitting at No. 3 in the Southeast Region, the EKU women are ranked ahead of the likes of Virginia Tech (No. 4), Duke (No. 5), Wake Forest (No. 6), Virginia (No. 8), Kentucky (No. 9), Clemson (No. 10) and North Carolina (No. 11).
The Colonels rolled to their 12th OVC title in the last 13 years on Saturday, scoring 33 points and beating their nearest competitor, Southeast Missouri (80), by nearly 50 points.
Junior Lilian Jeptoo Kiborus led the way for Eastern, finishing second overall with a 5K time of 17:15.9.
Both the men’s and women’s teams will compete at the NCAA Southeast Regional on Friday, November 9, with a trip to the NCAA Championships on the line.
EKU has never sent a men’s and women’s team to the NCAA Championships in the same year.