Cross country places second at UCO

Photo by Krista Pylant

Photo by Krista Pylant

Krista Pylant
Sports Editor
@KristaPylant8

Rain and muddy conditions did not stop the Cameron cross country team from placing second in their first meet of the season at the University of Central Oklahoma Land Run in Edmond on Sept. 6.
Downpours in the area caused a 30 min rain delay of the 6k race, which senior captain Thomas Toth said changed the team’s strategy going into the meet.

“With the rain and the conditions, it wasn’t as ideal as it would be to see where our fitness level is, so it became more tactical,” Toth said. “It became more about conditions instead of time which is what cross country is, but at the end, it was just seeing where we were and I think everyone on the team is in better shape than we expected.”

As a team, the Aggies finished with a total time of 1:44:45.72, and had an average time of 20.57.15 per runner. The Black and Gold finished second with 45 points, just 20 points shy and two minutes behind first place team, Oklahoma City University.

Individually, Toth placed second after a 20:09.08 overall finish, seven seconds behind race winner, Oklahoma City’s Peter Koskey.
Toth said of the finish, “I made a dumb tactical error going the last two miles. He [Koskey] was in finishing speed and I should have realized that and not let him utilize it. I should have tried to break in the mile and a half then and then try to push the pace.

“Peter’s an amazing athlete and he’s shown that year in and year out, so I can’t be too upset and I improved on my placing from last season, so all in all, I’m pretty happy with it.”a

Toth’s place in this year’s land run was a two spot improvement over his fourth place finish from last year. Another Aggie runner, sophomore Methuselah Lagat, also improved on his placing from last season, moving from a 74th place finish in 2013, to earning a spot in the top-10 with a time of 20:39.26 to finish sixth.

Freshman Leonard Kiplagat also secured a spot in the top-10 after he finished eighth with a time of 20:45.02.
Additional CU runners in the top-25 were freshman Pascal Paintner in 16th at 21:33.67, redshirt sophomore Grant Wignall in 17th at 21:38.69 and junior Steve Orwell in 21st at 21:49.19.

Senior Loic Soria finished in 26th, freshman Henri Hansert in 32nd, junior Cole Atchinson in 48th, freshman Shadrack Toroitich in 54th and senior Antonio Moreno in 55th.

The UCO Land Run was the Aggie’s first meet under the leadership of new head coach Zach Johnson who spent the past decade as the cross country and assistant track and field coach for Oklahoma Baptist University.

During his ten seasons at OBU, Johnson was named Sooner Athletic Conference/Region VI Coach of the Year six times in cross country and helped lead the Bison to six top-10 finishes at NAIA nationals.

According to Johnson, his first meet with the Aggies was about getting his athletes back into competition mode and to gauge where the team is at after the offseason.

“We kind of approached this first meet as a rust buster,” Johnson said. “It’s a long season and our national meet is not until Dec. 8. Everybody is improving each week, our interval times are dropping, and we are getting a little faster and gaining mileage each week.
“If we get our number four and number five runners closer to our number three, I think we’ll be pretty good. That’s our big goal for next week.”

As for season goals, Johnson said, “to definitely move up in the conference, I think we were third last year so we definitely want to be higher than that, and then improving our region finish. We are rated ninth and the top six make it to the national meet, so that’s the goal we want to accomplish and start as soon as we can.”

Next, the Aggies will travel to Stillwater to compete in the Oklahoma State Cowboy Jamboree on Sept. 27.

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