Katy Kunc repeated as women’s individual champion, and Jacob Thomson claimed the men’s individual race at Kentucky’s home cross country meet – The Bluegrass Invitational – on Saturday at Masterson Station Park.
Eastern Kentucky’s men’s and women’s team’s edged UK’s squads for the team wins. The EKU men scored 22 points compared with UK’s 49, and the Colonels’ women’s team scored 28 compared with UK’s 40.
Kunc, a 2016 cross country All-American, won the Bluegrass Invitational for the third year in a row – breaking 17 minutes on the 5,000-meter course for the first time.
Kunc finished in 16:42.10 – 11.9 seconds ahead of EKU’s Charlotte Imer who finished 18.9 seconds ahead of Kunc at the Eagle Opener on Friday, Sept. 1.
“I felt really good,” Kunc said. “My goal was to win again and break 17 (minutes) and I definitely did that. I’m glad I was able to push myself and run a good time.”
Kunc covered 5k 43 seconds faster than she did a little more than a week ago on a rain-soaked course in Morehead.
Michelle McKinney was UK’s No. 2 finisher, sixth overall in 17:40.70. Avery Bussjager was next across the line, 0.8 second later.
Caitlin Shepard placed 12th overall in 18:02.70. Sarah Crawford was UK’s No. 5 finisher placing 14th in 18:14.13, while Madisyn Peeples was next to finish in 18:18.10.
Men’s team report
Thomson looked the part in his 2017 cross country debut winning by 11.3 seconds with a time of 23:42.10. He ran more than a minute faster than his time at the same meet last year.
“It was nice for the whole track team to come out and support us in their offseason,” Thomson said. “Wanted to open up the season with a performance to set the tone for the rest of the season. I think I did that today. Accomplished the goal.”
Daniel Southard was the No. 2 UK finisher, 10th overall in 24:17.20. Brennan Fields placed 12th in 24:22.70, Matthew Thomas was 17th in 24:42.70 and Kendall Muhammad rounded out UK’s scoring places in 24:47.30.
The Masterson Station Park course is 100 percent grass over rolling fields typical of central Kentucky. Masterson Station Park will be host site for the 2019 Southeastern Conference Championships and 2021 NCAA Southeast Regional.
Cross country refresher
Points are scored in cross country corresponding to finishing place. The place of each of the top five finishers on each team are added up and the team with the lowest total wins. Placers outside a team’s top five cannot score so finishers on other teams that might finish behind a team’s No. 6 or No. 7 finisher can get a point total fewer than their overall place in the race.
The Kentucky women’s team is ranked No. 4 in the Southeast Region by the USTFCCCA. The UK men’s team is the No. 5 team in the Southeast.
Kentucky had two representatives at the NCAA Championships last season.
In 2016, Katy Kunc was the UK women’s team’s first All-American since 2013. She earned bronze at the Southeastern Conference Championships and NCAA Southeast Regional last year.
A year ago for the UK men’s team, Jacob Thomson made the NCAA Championships individually for the second season in a row. Thomson placed seventh in the men’s race at the Southeast Regional. He was named SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year in October.
The UK men’s team placed third, and the women’s team was seventh at the SEC Championships last year.
The UK women’s team was third and the men’s team was fifth at the NCAA Southeast Regionals last year.
UK has not qualified for the NCAA Championships as a team since the women’s squad did so in 2008. The Kentucky men’s team last made NCAAs in 2003 – placing 28th with 642 points.
In order to be eligible to participate in the championships, teams and individuals qualify in their respective NCAA regional competitions.
Thirty-one teams are selected to participate in each championship. The top two, seven-person teams automatically qualify from each of the nine regions, for a total of 18 teams. Thirteen additional teams were selected at-large.
Thirty-eight individuals are selected to participate in each championship through an automatic qualifier and at-large selection process. All individual qualifiers finish in the top 25 in their regions.
Individual results (UK only)
1. Jacob Thomson: 23:42.10
10. Daniel Southard: 24:17.20
12. Brennan Fields: 24:22.70
17. Matthew Thomas: 24:42.70 (13 points)
19. Kendall Muhammad: 24:47.30 (15 points)
22. Alex Mortimer: 24:51.20
24. Cole Dowdy: 25:12.30
28. Tanner Dowdy: 25:23.10
1. EKU: 28
2. Kentucky: 40
3. Ohio: 69
4. IPFW: 107
5. Xavier (Ohio): 130
Individual (UK only)
1. Katy Kunc: 16:42.10
6. Michelle McKinney: 17:40.70
7. Avery Bussjager: 17:41.50
12. Caitlin Shepard: 18:02.70
14. Sarah Crawford: 18:14.30
15. Madisyn Peeples: 18:18.10
For the most in-depth coverage of the UK cross country and track and field program follow the @KentuckyTrack social media channels on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as well as on UKathletics.com.
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