Eastern Kentucky junior Soufiane Bouchikhi and sophomore Ben Toroitich were named 2012 Ohio Valley Conference Cross Country Male Co-Athletes of the Year while Colonels sophomore Ann Eason was tabbed OVC Cross Country Female Athlete of the Year in a vote of league head coaches on the eve of the 2012 OVC Cross Country Championship. In addition EKU’s Amos Kosgey and Julia van Velthoven were named 2012 OVC Freshmen of the Year.
Prior to the 2011 season the awards for the top honors in cross country were determined by placement at the OVC Championship but were changed to a vote before last year’s Championship. This year’s OVC Championship will be held on Saturday, October 27 at Oxford Lake in Oxford, Ala. Following the race the awards for Athletes of the Championships, Coach of the Year and the All-OVC teams will be awarded.
Bouchikhi and Toroitich have been a potent 1-2 punch for the Colonels who are ranked No. 13 nationally in the latest USTFCCCA poll. The OVC Athlete of the Year honor is the third-straight for Bouchikhi who enters Saturday’s meet as the two-time defending OVC Champion; he also placed 47th a year ago at the NCAA Championship to earn All-American honors. The junior from Belgium won the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic (20:43.95) to start the season, was seventh at the Notre Dame Classic (23:53) and last time out placed 13th at the loaded Wisconsin adidas® Invitational (23:39). Bouchikhi is the ninth-straight Eastern Kentucky runner to be named OVC Athlete of the Year and the fourth harrier in Conference history to earn the honor three or more times (joining former EKU standouts Grant Colehour, John Nganga and Jacob Korir).
Competing in his first season with the EKU cross country team the Kenyan native Toroitich, who earned All-American honors in track and field a year ago, holds the fastest 8K time in the OVC this year, running 23:36.0 at the Wisconsin adidas® Invitational where he has 10th out of a field of 316 runners, including topping Bouchikhi, which marked the first time in his collegiate career he was not EKU’s top finisher. Toroitich was also third this year at the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic, the Vanderbilt Commodore Classic and 11th at the Notre Dame Classic.
After the Eastern Kentucky team lost one of its top runners early in the season, Eason, who was ninth at the OVC Championship a season ago, has stepped up and led the Colonels including posting the top 5K (17:37.26) and 6K (21:26.10) times in the Conference in 2012. Along the way she earned a pair of adidas® OVC Runner of the Week honors, including the last week of the season after establishing that top 6K time at the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet. Eason, who hails from Lexington, Ky., is the 24th runner from Eastern Kentucky (and fourth in a row) to be named OVC Female Cross Country Athlete of the Year.
Kosgey, whose older sister Lydia was a 2011 All-American and OVC Female Athlete of the Year, holds the eighth-best 8K time (24:44.60) in the OVC this season, setting that mark two weeks ago at the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet in Louisville. In that performance he led the Colonels “B” team to a second place finish out of 24 teams in the Black Race. Earlier this season he was fifth out of 203 competitors at the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic and 10th at the Vanderbilt Commodore Classic. Kosgey, who is from Eldoret, Kenya, is the fourth EKU runner to be named OVC Male Freshman of the Year since the award was first handed out in 2005, joining Elkana Kurgat (2006), Bouchikhi (2010) and Thijs Nijhuis (2011).
On the women’s side, van Velthoven notched the second-best 5K time in the OVC this year, running 17:40.13 at the Greater Louisville Classic on Sept. 29. She started the season with a fourth place finish at the Memphis Brooks Twilight Classic and was 11th at the Vanderbilt Commodore Classic. The Tilburg, Netherlands native is the third EKU runner to be named OVC Female Freshman of the Year since the award was first handed out in 2005, joining Picoty Leitich (2009) and Hannah Miller (2010).
SectionsFeatured Story, NCAA, Ohio Valley Conference, Schools, Sports, Track & Field
TopicsAPSU, Austin Peay, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Clarksville Sports Network, Govs, Lady govs, NCAA, Ohio Valley Conference, OVC, Tennessee
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