RICHMOND, Ky. – Eastern Kentucky University freshman James Sugira has officially punched his ticket to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Sugira qualified in the 5,000 meters by running a school-record time of 13:37.8 at the Washington Husky Classic in Seattle on February 8.
He enters the national championship meet ranked No. 7 in the country.
The top-16 athletes from the around the country in every event advance to the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Sugira will race in the 5,000 meters on Friday night, March 8, around 9:30 p.m. ET.
This year, the meet will be held at the CrossPlex in Birmingham, Alabama, the same facility that hosted the OVC Indoor Championships February 20-21. Sugira won two gold medals at that meet (3,000 meters and mile), helping the EKU men capture the team title.
Sugira is EKU’s first NCAA indoor qualifier in a track event since Soufiane Bouchikhi and Lydia Kosgei both made it in the 5,000 meters in 2012. Bouchikhi finished 11th in the men’s 5K that year.
In 2008, Jacob Korir nearly won an NCAA indoor 5,000 meters title for EKU, finishing second by less than two seconds with a time of 13:52.9.
Sugira is the only athlete – male or female – from the Ohio Valley Conference to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
The native of Kigali, Rwanda will be competing against some of the top distance runners in the NCAA, including 2018 cross country national champion Morgan McDonald (Wisconsin), who comes in ranked just ahead of Sugira at No. 6 (13:37.85).