Phenom races to early success

Edwin Kurgat (center), freshman business administration major, runs with teammates (from left) Joel Wellum, Dan Ramer and Zach Covington. The team continued to practice despite the drizzle falling over Union, Oct. 25. | Photo by Victoria Stargel

By Megan Seals

Union University cross-country runner Edwin Kurgat, freshman business administration major, has already received awards and recognition in the sport for the 2010 season. But what people do not know about is his dedication behind these awards.

Kurgat recently earned the TranSouth Conference men’s cross-country Runner of the Week award for the week ending Sept. 26. This award was the second time he was honored this year.

Kurgat, 5-foot-8, finished his first year strongly, taking seventh place in the Commodore Classic hosted by Vanderbilt University. Kurgat also finished second in the Union University Cross-Country Invitational, while both men’s and women’s teams posted first-place finishes in the race.

It was in the Commodore Classic that Kurgat was the highest NAIA contender, finishing 25:48 among NCAA competitors. It was Kurgat’s second straight top-20 finish in an NCAA event.

In the Memphis Twilight Classic, he won top NAIA and TranSouth finisher in the event.

Kurgat, from Eldoret, Kenya, said his passion for running started only two years ago.

“Kurgat is pure talent,” coach Gary Johnson said. “Many people think that because you are from Kenya that you can run. Trust me, we have seen plenty of Kenyan runners, but Edwin is definitely talented.”

Johnson said Kurgat shows his enthusiasm for running by taking the lead and pushing the pace in whatever race he is in. He described Kurgat as a teammate who is easy to confront and engage in conversation. He also said he genuinely cares about the team’s success as much as his own personal accomplishments.

“My goal this year is to take my team, through our teamwork, to win the conference and the regionals and even go for the national championship,” Kurgat said.

The runner said his inspiration and motivation to keep his performance up in the game come from the encouragement and understanding given  by his coach and teammates.

Johnson summed up the achievements and progress that Kurgat has achieved so far in this season.

“Kurgat has shown the ability to win conference-level and NAIA-level meets,” Johnson said. “Edwin works well with his teammates to help them improve in their running.”

Johnson also said Kurgat works with Alex Bett, junior computer science major, and Zach Covington, junior secondary education major, to push each other in their practice and workouts and get the most out of each other.

Along with that, Johnson emphasized the depth and talent his team has displayed this season.

“The team I have this season is one of the most enjoyable teams I have coached in a few years,” Johnson said. “This team has high expectations to win our conference, make it to nationals and represent Union the best we can.”

Johnson also said how he is grateful for the runners he has had the pleasure of working with so far this season, such as other freshman runners Caleb Creel, Christian studies major, and Ashlee Stewart,  biology major.

“Kurgat has come in as a freshman runner and has led the team since he started,” Johnson said. “And he will continue to as he helps us to reach our team goals throughout the rest of the season.”

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.