WKU Cross Country wins in slim Old Timers Classic field

Western Kentucky University Cross Country team raced against Morehead State University and Kentucky Wesleyan Univeristy, at Kereiakes Park on Saturday. WKU took first place in both the Men’s and Women’s races. 

Mercedes Trent

The 30th Annual Old Timers Classic featured just three teams this year, down from the eight that competed last year.

But freshman Peter Okwera said he didn’t look at it as a small race.

“I feel every race is big,” Okwera said. “As long as it is a race, it is meant to be run all out.”

Both of WKU’s cross country teams claimed the first place in the meet on Saturday at Kereiakes Park, defeating Morehead State and Division II Kentucky Wesleyan.

Senior Marion Kandie placed first in the women’s 5K race for the second consecutive year. Kandie clocked in at 17:55, a personal best in the Old Timers Classic. 

It was the second year in a row that Kandie won the 5K race. 

“My target was to break eighteen minutes,” Kandie said. “I just felt good. I kept pushing the pace and I wanted to be faster than last year.” 

Senior Michelle Finn took second with a time of 18:55, followed by senior Vasity Chemweno who placed fourth.

In just his second collegiate race, Okwera captured first in the men’s 8K with a time of 25:40. Freshman Sean Hurd followed in second, clocking in at 26:07. 

Okwera said while there is a level of competitiveness missing from the meet, the smaller number of teams allows for an important building block for the season.

“I think this race is a boost for the next events coming up,” he said. “I feel when it comes to a faster course, the team will run well.”

Head coach emeritus Curtiss Long agreed. 

“This (race) allows the athlete to match up man-to-man,” Long said. “That’s a key element in competitive development. It was an ideal setting for our team.” 

However, three competitors sat out the race for physical reasons: senior Deus Rwaheru, junior Kyle Chettleburgh and freshman David Mokone. 

Long said he “would have run them all” if they were healthy, but was “quite pleased” with the outcome of the meet. 

“When you look at the battles in that race, it was a victory for us,” Long said. “We’re very fortunate Sean and Peter ran outstanding races.” 

Long also noted sophomore Brett Austin’s performance. Austin, who struggled this week with calf problems, fought back to capture fifth place. 

Okwera said he’s proud of how WKU ran this weekend but wants to remain focused on the road ahead. 

“I see there’s a lot of improvement in the team,” Okwera said. “The team is running well but I don’t want people to raise expectations. We’re still on the edge of our training.”

Both teams will return to competition again Oct. 1 in the Greater Louisville Classic at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park.