EIU hosts cross country OVC Championship

Alex Hartman, Cross Country Reporter

The final week of October signals the final meet for the men and women of Eastern cross country of the season.

The Ohio Valley Conference Championship meet is the final meet that runners are guaranteed to compete in this season. The conference brings the team back home to compete on the familiar terrain of the Tom Woodall Panther Trail at Eastern. This Saturday the meet will commence with the men running the 8K and then the women in the 5K.

The meet features the OVC teams of Eastern, Eastern Kentucky, Belmont, Morehead State, Tennessee Tech, Tennessee-Martin, Murray State, Southeast Missouri, Austin Peay, Jacksonville State, Southern Illinois Edwardsville and Tennessee State.

It has been over a decade since the last time Eastern hosted the meet, last time was in 2005, and is the 57th men’s OVC championship and the 39th women’s.

The conference meet has been dominated by Eastern Kentucky since it began with Eastern Kentucky winning 25 for the men and 30 out of 38 for the women’s.

Eastern will hope to break Eastern Kentucky’s streak of 11 straight men’s team victories and five straight women’s team victories. Eastern has won seven total OVC championships, with the last time being the last time the meet was held here in 2005. 

After a solid year for Eastern, led by the surprise star freshman Dustin Hatfield, who has been the team’s top runner in all four events that he has competed in, the team will look to repeat and improve upon their success last year’s fourth place finish. Hatfield should look to be in the running for OVC Freshman of the year with his performances thus far.

The women’s team has once again been led by senior Maria Baldwin and she has been the top female finisher in all her meets this year as well, they will look to improve upon the fourth place finish they achieved last year as well.

Prior to the meet, awards of OVC Athletes and Freshman of the Year will be announced at an awards banquet on Friday, decided by coaches vote. Then after the conference meet All-OVC honors and Athletes of the meet will be announced.

Competition for the men’s teams start at 9 a.m. and the women’s teams are set to start at 10 a.m.

Alex Hartman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]