Silus Kipkoech is only a freshman, but his impact on the UNCP men’s cross country team is reminiscent of an upperclassman.
On Nov. 8, it was announced that Kipkoech earned NCAA Southeastern Cross Country Athlete of the Year honors after winning six consecutive races to end the regular season.
The most recent pair of victories came at crucial times for the Braves. Kipkoech topped the field at the Peach Belt Conference Championships on Oct. 21 in Fort Benning, Ga., with a time of 24:20.8.
The Kenya native followed that impressive performance with another victory at the NCAA Southeast Region Championship, clocking the ninth-fastest 10K time in program history at 31:23.55.
Not only did that race put Kipkoech in the record books, but it also qualified him for the NCAA Division 2 National Championships on Nov. 18 in Evansville, Ind. That is relatively unchartered territory for UNCP runners, as Olympian Pardon Ndhlovu was the only other Brave to qualify for the event in the Division 2 era.
Men’s team notches runner-up finish
Kipkoech’s PBC Championship victory was part of a strong overall effort by his team, as the Braves notched a runner-up finish at the meet.
Four Braves – Kipkoech, Matthew Martin, Curtis Haynie and Ean Ormsby – bested their personal records in the 8K race.
Martin was the second UNCP runner to cross the finish line, registering a fifth-place finish with a time of 25:21.0. He was followed closely by Logan Ward, whose time of 25:25.3 earned him a seventh-place finish.
Matthew’s twin brother, Jonathan, tallied a 26th-place result after clocking a time of 26:51.1. It was a hard-fought finish for the China Grove native, as teammate Curtis Haynie (26:52.0) stormed in right behind him to secure 27th place.
Nate Nash (27:27.7) and A.J. Sayers-O’Neill (27:36.1) finished in 36th and 39th place, respectively.
The women’s cross country team experienced plenty of success at the PBC Championships, finishing fifth behind personal bests from four of its seven runners.
Molly McCann (18:55) led the way with an 18th-place finish, while Riley Axe (19:10.6) crossed the line in 26th place.
Kristin Cain finished just a couple seconds behind Axe with a time of 19:12.6. Michaela Reynolds registered a 29th-place performance with a time of 19:17.0.
Corey Pethers finished in 42nd place with a personal-best time of 19:42.7.