Kenyan transfer sees new school as place to excel

Brad Tansey

Kiplangat Tisia wants to make a name for himself.

The sophomore cross country runner from Koiybey, Kenya came to the United States two years ago to attend college and show off his running ability.

“I really wanted to explore my running talents and achieve the best I could academically,” he said. “It’s well known that Kenya is the running powerhouse of the world; if you compare the rest of the world and Kenya itself, they (Kenya) would still dominate.”

Back in Kenya, the 21-year-old Tisia said one of the most influential people in his life when it came to running was his brother, Clement Langat, who was the 2010 silver medalist in the International Association of Athletics Federation Junior Men’s World Cross Country Championship in Poland.

Sophomore co-captain Michael Heller said Tisia is a great addition to the men’s squad this season.

“He blends in well with the team,” Heller said. “Before he came to Kent, he was at Youngstown and I had seen him in races before. He was a real aggressive runner.”

Tisia said when he first started running cross-country, he was “very poor.”

“I used to be lazy when it came to running, but my brother always used to make me get out of bed and go run,” he said.

Last year, Tisia attended Youngstown State where he excelled early in his career, running both cross-country and track.

In the Cardinal Twilight meet at Louisville, Ky., last season, Tisia set a school track record with a time of 8 minutes, 49.25 seconds in the steeplechase. The time was the fastest by a freshman in the nation and ranked 21st nationally.

Men’s CC preview

Key Returning Athletes: Michael Heller and Scott Hilditch

Heller and Hilditch were named captains of the men’s team this season. Last season, Heller finished in the top 10 in four of the races, including a season-best seventh place at the Tommy Evans Invitational. Hilditch finished in the top five in five out of six races, including a first-place finish at the Falcon Invite.

Breakout Athlete: Kiplangat Tisia

Tisia, a Kenyan transfer student from Youngstown State, ran a season-best 8k time of 25:39 at the Falcon Invite last season.

Key Departure: Aiman Scullion

Last season, Scullion finished in the top 12 in all six season races, including first-place finishes at the Tommy Evans Invitational and the MAC Championships.

One of his better performances’ in cross country included a season-best 8k time of 25:39 at the Bowling Green Falcon Invite where he finished 20th.

After the 2009 season, he decided he wanted to attend Kent State.

“I loved the team here (Kent State),” he said. “While at Youngstown State, I competed against Kent State and they were doing very well, so I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

Kent State coach Mark Croghan said in Tisia’s short time at Kent State, he has “been very receptive to being coached.”

“He’s come right in and fit right in with the first group of guys,” Croghan said. “I think that he has some pretty lofty goals and he’s going to work hard to try and achieve those starting with the cross-country season into track season.”

One of those lofty goals for the soft-spoken Tisia is to make it to the national championships.

“I want to do the best I can do,” he said. “I want to run at the national level and maybe win a national title.”

Tisia added he expects this year’s men’s team to be very competitive in the Mid-American Conference.

Despite not running at the Flashes’ first meet tomorrow at the Tommy Evans Invitational in Akron, Tisia said when he does run for the first time for Kent State, he expects to have a great race.

“I won’t say anything until I run the race, but I would love to win,” he said. “If it’s possible for me to win, I’ll go for it.”

Contact Brad Tansey at [email protected].