Cross Country: Blue Raiders qualify for NCAA Regionals after C-USA victory

Photo by Jonathan Clark / Sidelines Archives

Story by Teylor Hines / Sports Reporter

The 25th-ranked Middle Tennessee men’s cross country team won the Conference USA Cross Country Championships on Saturday morning for the first time in program history. Jacob Choge led the way and captured his second individual C-USA Cross Country crown.

The men came out on top over Charlotte to win the meet 38 to 30 points, surpassing the 49ers in the second half of the race. A one-two punch, Choge (23:54.7) and Kigen Chemadi (23:57.5) finished just three seconds apart at the top of the pack.

The meet’s outstanding senior Sampson Laari (24:27.3) came in fifth, with Amos Cheruiyot (24:53.1) and Geoffry Cheruiyot (24:54.7) finishing back to back just outside the top 10.

Although Charlotte’s first four runners placed in the top eight, the Cheruiyots’ performances secured the win for the Blue Raiders, as the 49ers’ last runner finished 18th. This put Choge, Chemadi and Laari on the All-Conference First Team and the Cheruiyots on the All-Conference Second Team.

The women’s team finished in sixth place and were led by Rachel Kigen (17:53.0), who placed 14th. Kigen also earned a spot on the All-Conference Second Team.

Julia Jelaget finished in 22nd place (18:11.6), just one spot short from an All-Conference Third Team honor. The remainder of the Blue Raider women all finished in top 45 in the running field.

The Charlotte women took the team title, finishing with 64 points. Southern Miss (87) and Rice (95) finished behind them in second and third, respectively. The 49ers were led by Caroline Sang (16:27.9), whose first-place finish edged out UTEP by over 10 seconds for the championship.

The Blue Raider cross country teams will move on to compete at NCAA South Regional on Friday, Nov. 10 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as the MT men look to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive season.

To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis, email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

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