Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Kiptoo sets example for Tide

The Alabama men’s cross country team is coming off its best season in school history, winning the South Regional Championship and finishing third in the NCAA tournament. This year’s team will turn to junior Moses Kiptoo to lead them back to a top finish at the NCAA tournament.

Kiptoo amassed an impressive amount of accolades last year, including All-Southeastern Conference, All-South Regional and All-American selection honors. A pharmacy major from Iten, Kenya, Kiptoo competed in all seven events for the Crimson Tide, and led the team in three.

He achieved a career-best time and a second place finish in the Bill Dellinger Invitational, finishing only one second behind eventual winner and teammate Tyson David. Kiptoo had top five finishes in the Memphis Twilight Invitational and the Crimson Classic last season and added two top 10 finishes in the SEC Championship and the NCAA South Regional.

Kiptoo, with a career-best four-mile time of 19:25:63 halfway through his career, is a force to be reckoned with for the defending national champions in the Oklahoma State squad.

Deeply rooted in his daily routine, Kiptoo is going through the motions just like last year, doing long, early-morning runs three times a week and focusing on his speed twice a week – not to mention a full class load and daily afternoon workouts.

“He’s a grinder,” head coach Joe Walker said. “The longer the effort, the longer the race, the better he is. He just puts his head down and keeps going.

“This early in the season we are just trying to improve as much as we can. People are tired, but he keeps working hard every day.”

The All-American said he has been recently concentrated on “staying low and picking up my pace a little.” In his developing leadership role, Kiptoo has also established goals to boost his teammates’ performances.

“At the moment we want to extend mileage,” Kiptoo said. “Since the season is still early, we can still improve on this.”

He emphasized the importance of his teammates by commenting on team chemistry.

“We always try to stay together and work as a team,” he said. “Walk together, eat together, just being together outside of practice.”

Despite Kiptoo’s quiet nature, Walker said he could see his development as a leader.

“It was one of those processes that I could see happening over time,” Walker said. “Naturally, a lot of those guys are a little quiet and reserved. We don’t really have that vocal, outspoken leader. He leads by example, just focusing on doing what we have to do every day.”

It is this demeanor that has earned him the nickname of “the old man” among his teammates and coaches.

“We joke about him being the old man, just going through the motions every day,” Walker said. “I’m not sure he likes that, though. I would say more like ‘the old vet’ than ‘the old man.’ The guy that’s been there and done that.”

On that note, Kiptoo’s attitude was compared to athletes like Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, both of whom are National Football League veterans who know the tricks of the trade.

Old man or veteran, Kiptoo is obviously a big part of his team’s past success and potential future success. The work ethic he brings to practice every day is beyond any shadow of a doubt, being noticed by his teammates and, in some cases, emulated.

“Seeing him work hard every day really makes the team better,” Walker said. “We’re at a point in our season where everyone needs to improve.”

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