Cross country earns early accolade

By Rachel Sarnovsky

[email protected]

The UK cross country team is beginning its season with leaps and bounds.

On Tuesday, sophomore Luis Orta was announced as the Southeastern Conference Cross Country Male Athlete of the Week.

The honor was given to Orta for his performance at the San Francisco Invitational. Orta ran the course, which passes through San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, in 24:52. The course was eight kilometers and with that time he received his first individual title.

“”Luis was coming off an injury, which kept him from running at the Southeast Regionals last season and from the entire indoor/outdoor season,” UK spokesman Sean Hilen said. “It was a great start for him to come out that strong and run his personal record so early in the year.”

Orta is the freshman record holder in the indoor 3,000m run, indoor 5,000m run and 3,000m steeplechase.  Along with those records, in the 2009 season, he was rewarded All-SEC Outdoor Second Team, All-SEC Outdoor Freshman Team, All-SEC Second Team and All-SEC Freshman Team.

In the coaching scene, UK alum and seven-time NCAA Championship qualifier, Thomas Morgan was named Kentucky’s assistant coach for distance events in track and field early this summer.

Morgan was the 2003 SEC cross ­ountry champion and while competing for UK he was a two-time All-America honoree for the distance medley relay in 2001 and 2003.

As a five-year member of Zap Fitness, Morgan qualified and participated in the 2004 and 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.  His top performance earned him a tenth place finish with a time of 13:47.76 in the 5,000m run during the 2008 Olympictrials.

Morgan is returning to UK with records in three events in the top five and three events in the top 10 of Kentucky record books. He also still holds the record for the 5,000m run with a time of 13:45.57. Along with holding records in various events, Morgan was a five-time All-SEC performer.

“Thomas brings some youth to the coaching staff,” Hilen said. “His success as an athlete is something the team can look up to, because he is only one year removed from the professional circuit. It is very much in reach for them.”

The accomplishments of Orta and sophomores Chelsea Oswald and Cally Macumber are already starting to mirror those of Morgan.  All three runners were All-SEC recipients during their first year at UK.

The Cats will travel next to New York to compete in their next meet, the Iona College Meet of Champions on Sept. 18.

“(UK head coach Don Weber) has been animate about not setting goals for the season,” Hilen said. “Most of the team, especially on the women’s side, is very young. He is just looking to see what they have and then he plans to go from there.”