Bowling Green, Ky. — The Western Kentucky University women's cross country team successfully defended their home course Saturday, as they captured the 13th Sun Belt Conference Cross Country title in school history at Kereiakes Park. This year's title marked the second in a row for the Lady Toppers, and the sixth straight for the women's program, as they have won every Sun Belt meet since the 2006 indoor track and field championships.
Janet Jesang paced all athletes and earned SBC Performer of the Meet honors, taking the individual crown in a 5,000-meter time of 17:28.29. Joining Jesang on the all-league team for 2007 was newcomer Eimear O'Brien and Natalie Leeper, who finished seventh and ninth with times of 18:15.53 and 18:29.50, respectively. In fact, all five WKU scorers finished in the top-20, as Amanda Adams and Ashley Moore placed 17th and 18th, respectively.
“I am proud of our team and the way we ran today,” said WKU head coach Dr. Curtiss Long. “We have a special group of athletes at Western Kentucky and I am grateful to them and especially our seniors."
Long, who has been at the helm of the WKU track and field and cross country programs for 27 years, earned the 31st coach-of-the-year accolade of his career, as he was honored similarly for the 2007 Lady Topper performance.
The WKU men finished fourth in the team scoring behind champion Arkansas-Little Rock, runner-up North Texas, and third-place Middle Tennessee. The Hilltoppers were led by the fifth-place and all-SBC effort of Bethuel Kiplagat, who covered the 5-mile course in 25:32.95. Joining him on the all-Sun Belt team from WKU was Cosmas Bor, who finished seventh in 25:58.03. Rounding out the scorers for the WKU men were Mark Bowers in 20th, Travis Keown in 23rd, and Drew Hawkins 26th.
The teams will take one week off before returning to E.P. "Tom" Sawyer Park in Louisville, Ky., November 10th for the NCAA Southeast Regional.