BETHANY, Okla. – Oklahoma City University puts a sixth Sooner Athletic Conference men’s cross country championship in its crosshairs 10:30 a.m. CT Saturday at Eldon Lyon Park. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City University women’s team takes aim at its eighth Sooner Athletic Conference team title in a row at 10 a.m. CT.
Follow live results and team score updates HERE as the battle for places to the 2022 NAIA National Cross Country Championships later this month. Read More: How to watch the 2022 KCAC Cross Country Championships?
Oklahoma City comes off taking the Mid-States Classic on Oct. 22 in Winfield, Kan. The Stars, ranked ninth in the NAIA, finished ahead of Southern Oregon, currently ranked 11th, at the Kansas Veterans Home of Winfield.
Nine all-SAC runners carried OCU to its fifth SAC title in a row in 2021. The Stars accounted for six of the league’s top eight finishers. Oklahoma City owns seven of the last eight conference championships.
“The focus for our program this season has been for these next couple of weeks, so our team is excited to get to the start line,” said OCU coach Frezer Legesse, who became SAC coach of the year last year.
The Stars have snared the past five individual championships and the top two finishers in the last two conference meets. Shimales Abebe, a junior from Los Angeles, has been the SAC runner-up the past two years. Abebe, a two-time SAC runner of the week this year, has collected top-five finishes in all three meets he has run in.
He finished third in the NAIA Mid-States Classic and reeled in his first career win in the Oklahoma City Stars Preview on Sept. 3 at Eldon Lyon Park.
OCU’s Abraham Chelangam, a freshman from Kampala, Uganda, captured the individual title in the Mid-States Classic and a 10th-place finish in the Chile Pepper Festival on Sept. 30 at Agri Park. Chelangam turned in his season-best time of 24 minutes, 3.9 seconds in Fayetteville, Ark., running against a field including Arkansas, ranked 16th in the NCAA, and two top-25 NCAA Division I squads.
Oklahoma City brought back six all-SAC performers from the previous year’s conference championships. Milan Todorovic, a senior from Belgrade, Serbia, and Joseph Engel, a senior from Oklahoma City, seek their third all-conference nods.
Dennis Kiptoo from Wayland Baptist looks to be a contender for the individual title. Kiptoo, a senior from Eldoret, Kenya, finished third in the 2021 SAC Championships. He has raked in two SAC runner of the week awards in 2022.
On the women’s side, Oklahoma City secured its seventh consecutive conference crown behind six all-SAC harriers. Four of those top-15 finishers return for OCU.
Oklahoma City’s Sharon Koima looks to become a three-time all-conference performer. Koima, a junior from Eldoret, Kenya, took third place for the second year in a row in the league meet with a time of 19 minutes, 0.8 seconds in the 5,000-meter race at Eldon Lyon.
Koima, a two-time SAC runner of the week this year, posted her top finish of the season Sept. 17 in the Missouri Southern Stampede, taking third with a mark of 18:49.2 in Joplin, Mo.
The title-winning team punches its tickets to the NAIA Championships on Nov. 18 in Tallahassee, Fla. The weather forecast for Saturday morning includes sunny skies with temperatures in the 50s and a southwest wind of around 10 mph. Rain is expected Friday.