Cross Country: Sophomore runner heads to nationals

One Flyin’ Frogs cross country runner will test his skills against the best in the nation next week.Sophomore Festus Kigen will be off and running when he hits the course and competes in the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday.

Kigen’s time of 30:04.3 was good for 10th place overall and fourth among individuals on non-qualifying teams in Saturday’s South Central Regional in Fayetteville, Ark., marking the third time in four years the Flyin’ Frogs have sent at least one runner to the national event. The last runner to go for the men’s team was Kip Kangogo in 2005.

“It takes a lot of effort because at the regional level you need to make the top four to qualify,” Kigen said. “It takes a lot of hard work.”

The Eldoret, Kenya, native said he spent the week mentally preparing for the meet.

“It’s one of the most competitive meets I’m going to,” Kigen said. “I’m running against some of the best athletes in the nation. I have to really focus my mind on what I’m going to do Monday.”

Kigen said his biggest challenge at the championships is taking on runners he has never competed with. Another challenge, he said, is eating right, with his favorite dish from The Main – made with beans, vegetables and cornbread.

“You have to do what’s called carbohydrate-loading three days before a race,” Kigen said, “and make sure you hydrate yourself, get enough rest, sleeping at least eight hours (per night).”

Kigen said he has bigger plans on the horizon.

“I’m treating college training as a stepping stone because I’m thinking about running professionally,” he said. “Two of my brothers are professional runners, so I’m thinking of joining them after I graduate.”

Head coach Shawn Winget said running professionally is a definite possibility for Kigen.

“He came to TCU after one year of training at home,” Winget said. “To be this successful and this high caliber at this young in his career, the sky is literally the limit.