By Rob Schabert, TTU Sports Information Volunteer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Gilbert Boit isn't taking anything for granted.
Just because the sophomore from Kenya has already proven to be the fastest distance runner in school history, the Tennessee Tech sophomore raced every step of the way Saturday morning against the largest, most challenging field of his brief career.
Taking on a rolling layout at Percy Warner Park, Boit led the Tennessee Tech men's cross country team to a remarkable showing at the Commodore Classic, hosted by Vanderbilt University.
Uphill and down, Boit completed the 8K course in 24:26,8 to place fourth individually and lead coach Wayne Angel's Golden Eagles to ninth place among a very tough 21-team field.
Tech finished just an eyelash behind Tennessee and Auburn, as the young Golden Eagle squad topped two SEC programs (Mississippi State and Vanderbilt), and was the highest-finishing among the six OVC schools on the course.
"It was really exciting to see the team performance by our men today," head coach Wayne Angel said. "[Gilbert] Boit ran exceptionally well despite being tripped during the race. Both teams' legs were extremely heavy from lifting weights last week and it showed today. But I was still very pleased at how we did in spite of our heaviness. Tech definitely made a statement today."
Edwin Kibichiy of Louisville was first across the finish line in 24:01.6, while Middle Tennessee claimed the team championship, edging Georgia and Ohio State. Butler, Missouri and Louisville took the next three spots. Tennessee posted 269 points, with Auburn at 280 and Tech with 288.
Finishing behind Tech were Lipscomb, Davidson, Belmont, Marshall, Morehead State, Mississippi State, UT Martin, Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky, Southeast Missouri, Murray State and Alabama State.
Boit's time is the second-fastest in school history, just off the record pace of 24:09.34 he recorded two weeks ago in Mobile, Ala. His time Saturday reflected his average of 4.55.1 per mile.
Freshman Sigei Bernard paced the remainder of the Tech lineup, finishing 46th in 25.50.9, with senior Daniel Williamson close behind in 74th place at 26:16.9. Ten spots back in 84th place, freshman Brannon Cheplack posted a time of 26:26.7, followed by Paul Patterson at 26:34.7 for 90th place.
"Our performance was solid for this point in the season," Angel added. "We beat some pretty good teams that are ranked in the South Region. Our kids were tough today and it showed me a lot about their personal character and determination to be the best that they can be. We have work to do, but I still applaud their effort."
"As a team, we met our objectives," Angel explained. "We needed to see teams within our region and outside as well. We came to Vanderbilt to get better. I think that we accomplished that mission. The Commodore Classic had a highly competitive field and I thought that we made progress."
The next action for the Golden Eagles is the Greater Louisville Classic, set for Saturday, Sept 1, where many of the same teams will compete.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information