October 28, 2017

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University of Tennessee at Martin standout Edwin Kurgat accomplished a piece of history, becoming the program’s first male Athlete of the Championship after notching individual medalist honors at the Ohio Valley Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday morning. Behind the championship effort by Kurgat, the Skyhawk men finished fifth overall as a team.

UT Martin tied the team’s best finish in school history with its fifth place finish, equaling the squad’s performance in the 2011 championship, surpassing preseason predictions. The team’s composite score of 116 points also ranked as the best score, surpassing the previous record of 159 in 2011 while cutting over 80 seconds off last year’s team average with a time of 25:08. With the team’s strong performance, the Skyhawks qualify as a team for the NCAA South Regional.  

Kurgat stole the show in his second OVC Championship performance, outmatching the field by 14 full seconds to notch the men’s program first individual championship with a time of 23:59.8. Additionally, his time ranked over 25 seconds faster than the recently named OVC Male Athlete of the Year Gilbert Boit. With his performance, he also notched All-OVC first team honors. Notching his fourth individual title of the year, Kurgat posted the program’s third consecutive OVC individual champion for the Skyhawks, joining former standout Ann Asipan who won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016.

Joining in the action for the South Region’s No. 14 ranked squad were strong performances from the supporting cast en route to the team’s highest finish in program history. Sophomore Ryan Ford continued to impress, notching an 18th place finish with a time of 25:00.1 while fellow classmate Austin Rogers wasn’t far behind with a time of 25:12.4 to finish 24th. Wrapping up the team’s scoring performance was the freshman duo of Brian Chelide with a time of 25:35.2 while Daniel Smith crossed at 25:48.6.

Also competing in the Championship was freshman Luke McNair with a personal-best time of 26:19.7 while freshman Lenny Baumann, sophomore Marcos Macias, freshman Andrew Dodson and sophomore Joey Palumbo ran well.

“Today was another strong day for our program,” said UT Martin head coach Peter Dalton. “Edwin ran well and was rewarded for it. To see how far our program has come along to win three consecutive individual OVC Championships is something we are really proud off. When you consider that all of our guys are sophomores or younger, we are continuing to grow as a team without holding the lack of experience as an excuse. There is so much more to come from this young squad.”

UT Martin will now turn their focus to the NCAA South Regional on Friday, Nov. 10 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

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