September 29, 2003
Cowley runner leaving the competition behind
Coming off the fastest 8,000-meter time in school his
tory, Cowley County Community College sophomore Josephat Boit has established himself as one of the top cross country runners in the National Junior College Athletic Association, and he’s helped the Tigers to a No. 3 ranking in the latest poll.
Boit, originally from Eldoret, Kenya, placed fourth at the Missouri Southern Stampede on Sept. 20, finishing behind only two runners from the University of Arkansas, the No. 1-ranked team in NCAA Division I, and a talented runner from Harding University. Boit finished with a school-record time of 24 minutes, 34 seconds.
Boit opened the season with a second-place finish at the Barton County Harrier Invitational, covering the three-mile course in 14:53. He then won the 8,000-meter Bob Timmons Invitational at the University of Kansas’ Rim Rock Farm with a time of 25:16, and also won the Tigers’ home invitational with a three-mile time of 16 minutes flat.
Prior to coming to Cowley, Boit was the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics national champion in both the indoor and outdoor 5,000 meters while running track at Central Methodist College in Fayette, Mo. He also finished third at the NAIA cross country championships last fall.
Boit attended Kapsoya Secondary School in Eldoret, Kenya, and at age 17, finished second in the World Junior Championships in the 5,000 meters with a time of 13:17.
So, his success at Cowley has not come as a surprise to first-year head cross country coach Mark Phillips.
“He is an extremely talented young man, one of those gifted runners that doesn’t come along very often,” Phillips said.
Boit’s success has led to attention from some of the top teams in NCAA Division I. Schools such as Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Oklahoma are among the numerous schools hoping to land Boit once he wraps up his stint of running for the Tigers.
“Everybody that’s anybody is trying to recruit him,” Phillips said.
Besides being such a great asset to the team from an athletic standpoint, Phillips believes Boit’s greatest strength is his personality.
“He’s a wonderful person, he’s one of those student athletes that you would take a whole team of,” Phillips said. “He’s not necessarily a vocal leader, but an absolute excellent example to the team. He’s special, not only in athletic talent, but he’s a wonderful human being.”
Getting used to life in the United States has been a bit of a challenge for Boit. But now in his second year of college, he feels he is adjusting well.
“Everything’s different, the language is different, the people are different, the food is different and so is the weather,” Boit said as rain and cool temperatures made for a not-so-fun practice on Monday. “But, I am able to deal with it now, and the people here are really nice.”
Boit is hoping to continue his strong sophomore season for the Tigers, and then focus on qualifying for the Kenyan Olympic team next summer.
“That’s my dream,” said Boit, who is a criminal justice major.
Phillips believes Boit can achieve his goal if he stays healthy and continues his hard work, which included running 55-65 miles per week this past summer.
“It’s a lofty goal, but an achievable goal,” Phillips said. “He comes from a country as rich in distance talent as the United States is rich in sprints.”
Boit’s home town is so well known for its distance runners that Nike has made a running shoe called the Eldoret.
His experience of running at the World Junior Championships, and of winning the NAIA national title, has made it to where there should be no situation that fazes Boit at this point in his college career.
“He’s been in some of the biggest track venues in the world,” Phillips said. “He does not like to lose, he has a switch where he goes from being nice guy Boit, to a real fierce competitor.”
Boit’s goal is to win the NJCAA national meet in Lawrence Nov. 8.
“We hope to keep him healthy enough to achieve that goal,” Phillips said.