WKU sweeps Sun Belt Cross Country Championships

From the Sun Belt Conference

For the eighth time in program history, the Western Kentucky men's and women's cross country teams swept the 2011 Sun Belt Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Kereiakes Park in Bowling Green, Ky.

Under sunny, chilly conditions, WKU won both the men's and women's races for the first time since 2008. The Hilltoppers also won both races in 1985, 1986, 1987, 1994, 1998 and 2003.

For the second consecutive year, WKU's Marion Kandie won the women's 5k, crossing the line at 17:21.5. The runner-up and also the top freshman finisher was Middle Tennessee's Lucy Kapkiai clocking in a time of 17:45.7.

On the men's side, Middle Tennessee's Justus David was the individual winner in the 8k at 24:25.7, edging out WKU's Deus Rwaheru whose 24:27.5 was good for a runner-up finish.

The WKU men had four runners finish in the top 10 to secure the team championship with 36 points for the first cross country title since 2008 and the program's 15th overall.

After Rwaheru, David Makone finished fourth at 24:47.0 as the top freshman finisher and was named the men's Freshman of the Year. Peter Okwera placed just behind Makone at 24:53.1, followed by Kyle Chettleburgh in ninth at 25:28.5

UALR – last year's men's champion – was the runner-up, earning 51 points thanks to Felix Maritim (25:19.0) and Dustin Mettler's (25:24.7) seventh and eighth place finishes, respectively.

The Lady Toppers earned 60 points with three runners finishing in the top 10 en route to the program's sixth consecutive Sun Belt Championship and the program's 17th overall. Vasity Chemweno (18:00.1) came in at fourth, followed by Michelle Finn (18:21.2) in eighth. Kandie, Chemweno and Finn all placed in the top 10 for the second consecutive year.

North Texas was the women's runner-up with 74 points. Ingrid Mollenkompf (17:52.6) and Sara Dietz (18:15.6) were the top two finishers for the Mean Green, coming in at third and sixth, respectively.

Also placing in the top 10 for All-Conference honors was South Alabama's Tori Lawson in fifth place, UALR's Erika LaCroix and Sanna Mustonen in seventh and tenth places, and Florida Atlantic's Rebecca Hallam in eighth.

On the men's side finishing in the top 10 was ULM's Daniel Mutai in third, Middle Tennessee's Robinson Simatei in sixth and FIU's Sebastian Castillo in tenth.

WKU's Erik Jenkins was named the Sun Belt Men's Coach of the Year, and North Texas' Sam Burroughs was named the Sun Belt Women's Coach of the Year as voted on by the league's 11 head coaches.

Sun Belt Men's Freshman of the Year: David Makone, WKU

Sun Belt Women's Freshman of the Year: Lucy Kapkiai, Middle Tennessee

Sun Belt Men's Cross Country All-Conference Team

1. Justus David, Middle Tennessee

2. Deus Rwaheru, WKU

3. Daniel Mutai, Louisiana-Monroe

4. David Makone, WKU

5. Peter Okwera, WKU

6. Robinson Simatei, Middle Tennessee

7. Felix Maritim, UALR

8. Dustin Mettler, UALR

9. Kyle Chettleburgh, WKU

10. Sebastian Castillo, FIU

Sun Belt Women's Cross Country All-Conference Team

1. Marion Kandie, WKU

2. Lucy Kapkiai, Middle Tennessee

3. Ingrid Mollenkompf, North Texas

4. Vasity Chemweno, WKU

5. Tori Lawson, South Alabama

6. Sara Dietz, North Texas

7. Erika LaCroix, UALR

8. Michelle Finn, WKU

9. Rebecca Hallam, Florida Atlantic

10. Sanna Mustonen, UALR