FAYATTEVILLE, Ark.- ULM senior Daniel Mutai led all Warhawk and Sun Belt finishers at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival Saturday, as he notched a 20th place finish. The Kapsabet, Kenya native covered the 10,000 meter course in 31:11.4. Texas Tech's Kennedy Kithuka grabbed the individual crown, as he turned in a 28:53 performance and bested the field by over a minute. Oklahoma State, the overall team champion, swept the rest of the top five sports. One of the premier collegiate cross country races in the country, the Festival featured over 300 collegiate runners.
The Warhawks were unable to get a team score because senior Britt Koestler's timing chip was lost during the race and only four ULM runners officially finished. However, Head Coach Karoly Varga was happy with his team's performance. "Mutai and Silah Chumba had really good days," the second year coach said. "We are pretty much on the same pace as last year." Chumba grabbed a 74th place finish with a 32:33.3 clocking. Chumba improved his finish place-wise by over forty spots from a year ago.
Junior Hillary Kirwa, who has been running extremely well so far this season, was hampered by a calf injury that forced him to slow to near-walking pace in the last mile. He finished in 273rd place overall.
Also competing for ULM was Austin Thomas, who clocked a time of 41:17.
The Warhawk men will be off for two weeks before heading to Bowling Green, Ky. for the Sun Belt Conference Championship meet. "The next two weeks will be very important training wise," Varga said. "The team will be ready to roll at conference and regionals, which is our goal all season."
The 2012 Sun Belt Championships will kick off at 10:00 a.m. CT, as the Warhawks and the rest of the conference try to knock off defending champion Western Kentucky.