By Steve Holt, Opinion Editor
You may have seen them gliding around the perimeter of campus, donning bright jogging singlets. You might have a class with one or two of them. You may even know they run cross country.
Chances are, the success of the cross country team doesn’t come up over dinner.
But do you know how good these guys really are?
The 2002 men’s cross country team looks to be the best group of ACU distance runners ever assembled, and is vying for its first ever national championship in the sport.
The slowest guy on the team can cover five miles in just under 30 minutes.
The fastest? 24 minutes.
Would you believe all top five runners earned all-America honors? They did.
At the ACU Classic, Wildcat runners placed first-through-fifth in the race, and all less than 10 seconds separated the winner from the fifth place finisher. Sometimes it seems these guys choose who will win that day’s race beforehand, giving each runner a chance to be in the limelight.
Alfred Rugema, the 2000 national champion, and 10-time national champion John Kemboi are the senior leaders. Rugema consistently records blistering times at various distances. Kemboi finished second to Rugema at the 2000 LSC and South Central region meets, and the NCAA Divi-sion II Championships.
And neither of these guys were the top runner at the ACU Classic.
Sophomore Bernard Manira-kiza was the meet winner, breaking his own winning time from last year. Juniors Jean-Marie Ndikumana, Arthemon Sin-dayigaya, Martin O’Kello and Nick Branen round out the top five runners, who will compete for their twelfth straight conference championship this fall.
But the holy grail for this team in 2002 is a national title. Think they can win it?
You better believe it.