Kenya native sets bar for cross country team

Oliver Grigg, Print Sports Editor

The transition to college is tough for many freshmen, but Kenya native Moses Aloiloi hit the ground running, literally. 

Aloiloi burst onto the scene for the Tulane men’s cross country team when he finished No. 1 out of 58 total runners with a time of 15:35.51 in his collegiate debut at the 5K Mississippi College XC Opener Aug. 30 in Clinton, Mississippi.

Aloiloi crushed suggestions of beginner’s luck two weeks later when he finished No. 5 out of 87 Division I runners and first among Tulane runners with a time of 24:44.17 in his first ever 8K at the Furman XC Classic Sept. 13 in Greenville, South Carolina.

Tulane director of cross country Eric Peterson worked to improve Tulane’s cross country program and establish it at a higher level, relying heavily on international recruiting. Peterson said he was lucky to discover a talent like Aloiloi.

“I’d been working on trying to develop some connections within Kenya and [Aloiloi’s] name came up as a possible prospect,” Peterson said. “The process just unfolded and we ended up being a great match for him and obviously he’s a great fit into our program.”

Though Aloiloi began running competitively about three years ago, he put his name on the national map by earning the first American Athletic Conference Cross Country Athlete of the Week award of the season.

“[Aloiloi] is an elite national-level distance runner,” Peterson said. “He is young and does not have a lot of racing experience but he is definitely somebody who is going to contend for the AAC title on an individual basis.”

Aloiloi left Kitale, Kenya to come to Tulane in January 2014. Aloiloi did not compete with the team during the 2014 spring track season. Instead, he focused on adjusting to a new school and a new country.

As easy as Aloiloi makes running look, he faces the same trials as many of his classmates and many more.

“The transition really is more difficult on a personal level than an athletic level,” Peterson said. “Going to class and then having a practice schedule on top of that is challenging. One of the things that I think is so impressive about him is how hard he is willing to work and the dedication that he is willing to invest in learning.”

In just his first season, Peterson said Aloiloi made a tremendous impact on both the program and the other members of the team.

“The other guys on the team are all improving because he brings that new level of fitness and athleticism to the team,” Peterson said. “Everyone is exposed to a higher level of talent and ability.”

Aloiloi said he embraced the positive energy of being part of a cohesive team, which has helped him in his personal performances.

“I love my teammates,” Aloiloi said. “They’re my friends, and they’re ready to teach me. They motivate me a ton, and we just make each other want to work harder.”

Aloiloi’s two strong first performances have set the bar high, but Aloiloi said he still has long strides to make to reach his full potential. 

“I’m not in my [best] shape right now, but in three, four, five weeks my body will reach its best shape,” Aloiloi said. “Through good training, discipline and working with my coach, team and my trainers, I’m going to accomplish my goals.”