WKU men, women take home Sun Belt cross country championships

Brad Stephens

WKU cross country made the most of a home field advantage Saturday.

Both the men’s and women’s team dominated the Sun Belt Championships Saturday morning at Kereiakes Park.

It was eighth time in program history the Toppers and Lady Toppers swept the league titles.

It was also the Lady Toppers’ sixth consecutive Sun Belt championship.

Ssenior Marion Kandie captured the individual women’s 5k, crossing the line in 17:21.5, nearly 25 seconds ahead of second place runner Lucy Kapkiai of Middle Tennessee State.

“We won last year and we wanted to keep the record going,” said Kandie, who won her second straight individual Sun Belt title. “We should do it as a team, so I’m so proud of our team, too.”

The day started with the men’s 8k event.

MTSU runner Justus David was the individual winner, with his time of 24:25.7 edging out WKU senior’s Deus Rwaheru’s 24.27.7.

Rwaheru was joined in the top five by fellow Toppers, freshman David Makone (fourth) and sophomore Peter Okwera (fifth).

WKU junior Kyle Chettleburgh checked in at ninth place, giving the Toppers four runners out of the event’s top 10.

WKU’s 36 team points gave them the victory over Arkansas-Little Rock (51 points), MTSU (64 points) and Florida International (126 points).

“For the guys to go out and run hard, especially at home, that’s always something special,” Head Coach Erik Jenkins said. “We’re young, so we look forward to good things in the future.”

Kandie ran behind another runner for much of the race, then snuck past and cruised to the win.

“It was my last race, my last Sun Belt Conference championship and it’s my home course,” Kandie said. “I was praying to God to help me win this race and he did it.”

The Lady Toppers (60 points) finished first behind strong efforts from Kandie, senior Vasity Chemweno (fourth place) and senior Michelle Finn (eighth place).

North Texas finished second with 74 points, followed by South Alabama (97 points) and UALR (98 points).

Makone won Sun Belt Freshman of the Year honors, while Jenkins was named Men’s Coach of the Year.