Kandie, Kipchirchir qualify for nationals

Sam Osborne

The WKU cross country team has spent most of 2010 preparing for the postseason, with hopes of qualifying for nationals. After an impressive showing Saturday at the NCAA Southeast Regional in Louisville at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park, WKU will send two individual runners to the national meet.

Junior Marion Kandie and freshman Shadrack Kipchirchir are both headed to the NCAA Championships Nov. 22 at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind. The pair received at-large bids to the meet following their performances Saturday at the Southeast Regional.

Kandie, who recorded her second straight top-25 regional finish, clocked a time of 20:50.23 on the six-meter course. Kipchirchir finished ninth on Saturday, navigating the 10,000-meter course in 30:30.0.

“I think I did well,” Kipchirchir said. “Especially with the course being much longer.”

Kandie said she’s thrilled to compete at nationals and hopes to make some noise.

“I am so excited,” Kandie said. “It’s such an honor to run at nationals. I just want to run well and hopefully qualify for the All-American team.”

Head Coach Eric Jenkins said qualifying two runners for nationals shows growth in the program.

“This is the second year we’ve qualified two for nationals,” Jenkins said. “To have a junior and freshman qualify is great. It gives us a pretty good glimpse of what is in store for our program.”

Jenkins said both Kandie and Kipchirchir’s qualification for nationals are a testament to how hard they have worked all year.

“Any time you make a national championship, you are the best — period,” Jenkins said. “For them to get an automatic bid out of the Southeast is impressive because it is one of the hardest regionals. It just shows how hard they have worked and the talent they have.”

With WKU continuing to make a name for themselves among the country’s top cross country programs, Jenkins said he hopes to build on the momentum the team has accrued and continue building the program.   

“We just need to continue recruiting quality student-athletes that can perform on the course and in the classroom,” Jenkins said.

Though Kandie and Kipchirchir were the only ones to qualify for nationals, several other Toppers had noteworthy finishes Saturday at regionals.

Junior Deus Rwaheru placed 14th, finishing the course with a time of 30:52.7. Junior Vasity Chemweno was also a top-25 finisher, turning in a time of 21:08.1 for 24th place.

Overall the women’s team placed 11th in team standings Saturday. The men’s team finished 22nd.

“The women did an outstanding job,” Jenkins said. “They came out and were able to compete against some tough competition.”