The Eastern Kentucky University women’s cross country team is the first Ohio Valley Conference women’s team to advance to the NCAA Championships in the 70-year history of the league.
RICHMOND, Ky. – It is official. The Eastern Kentucky University women’s cross country team is the first Ohio Valley Conference women’s team to advance to the NCAA Championships in the 70-year history of the league.
EKU earned one of 13 at-large bids to the national championship meet, the NCAA announced on Saturday.
Eastern finished third at the NCAA Southeast Regional on Friday at Panorama Farms in Earlysville, Virginia. It was the Colonels’ best regional finish ever and it punched their ticket to the Big Dance.
EKU will join an elite list of 30 other schools at the NCAAs. Automatic qualifiers include: Arkansas, Colorado, Dartmouth, Furman, Georgia, Iowa State, Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss, N.C. State, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Providence, San Francisco, Stanford, Texas and Villanova.
Eastern’s fellow at-large teams are Boise State, BYU, California, Columbia, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Oregon, Syracuse, Utah State, Washington and Wisconsin.
The NCAA Championships will take place on Saturday, November 18, at E.P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer Park in Louisville.
Junior All-American Charlotte Imer led the way on Friday, placing third out of 257 runners with a 6K time of 20:15.1
Senior Luisa Boschan was second on the team and 13th overall with a time of 20:40.6.
Sophomore Lilian Jeptoo Kiborus finished third on the team and 34th overall in a time of 21:23.4.
Junior Gladys Cheruiyot played a crucial role in the outcome. Cheruiyot had not finished in the team’s top-five since early September; however, she surged ahead on Friday to place fourth on the team and 39th overall with a time of 21:32.9.
Senior Ciara Scott rounded out the Colonels’ scoring five on the day with a 47th place finish (21:43.3).
The N.C. State women won the region with 68 points, followed by Furman with 83 points. EKU took third with 136 points, barely edging Virginia Tech (138) by two points.
Imer and Boschan both earned NCAA All-Southeast Region honors for the second consecutive year following the race.