Runner Peter Kosgei ’11 is one of the most successful athletes in Hamilton’s 200-year history. He holds nine cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field national titles, just shy of an NCAA record. But amazingly, Kosgei never competed in his homeland of Kenya. Instead, he focused on academics with hopes of being admitted into a Kenyan college. “I used to lock myself in my dorm or jump into the woods so I could study at least for a few minutes,” he says.
In a twist of fate, the Kenya Scholar-Athlete Project noticed Kosgei’s straight-A grades and incredible running potential, and provided him with an opportunity for acceptance at an American college. He applied Early Decision to Hamilton once his time of 4:34 in the mile had caught track coach Brett Hull’s attention.
After taking the 2010 indoor and outdoor track seasons off to focus on academics, Kosgei returned to action this fall for Hamilton’s cross-country team. Today, at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships in Waverly, Iowa, Kosgei places sixth out of 279 runners. He finishes with a personal season-best of 24:31.2 over the eight-kilometer distance and earns a third All-America award. But his running brilliance does not define Kosgei’s identity. He says that Hamilton has taught him that “just as there’s more to academics than getting perfect grades, there’s more to running than just winning.”
And although he hopes to run professionally after graduation, academics remain his priority. “With a Hamilton College education,” he says, “I can run without thinking about what will happen after I retire. I will always have the knowledge I got from Hamilton, even if I get injured or stop running.”
In other words, his education will provide him with legs as well.