National Cross Country Championships
Women 4th; Men 5th
Capping off stellar seasons, the Cowley College women and men’s cross country teams placed fourth and fifth, respectively, at the NJCAA Division I National Cross Country Championships November 4 in El Paso, Texas.
The Lady Tigers, led by Irene Kosgei, Jeniffer Cherono and Ashley Cronin earning All-American honors, claimed their highest national finish in the program’s history. Cowley just missed earning a team trophy given to the top-three schools as they finished two points behind third place Central Arizona and only four points behind national runner-up Johnson County. South Plains (Texas) Community College won the ladies national championship. There were 28 women’s teams at the meet.
“The ladies all ran real hard and did very well,” Cowley head coach Mark Phillips said. “We felt good about what we did, but we would have liked to have come home with a trophy.”
Kosgei (18:31) finished fourth, while Cherono (18:46) and Cronin (19:37) finished fifth and 14th, respectively.
In the men’s race, freshman Daniel Maina began the race in a pack of six runners that went out running at an incredible pace. The group of runners Maina was in ran faster every mile of the five-mile race as they accounted for the fastest national race in the history of NJCAA cross country.
“That men’s race might have been one of the most incredible races I have ever witnessed,” Phillips said.
The pack finally dwindled down to Maina and Central Arizona’s Tyson David at the 4 ½ mile mark, and David had just enough to outlast Maina as he finished with the fastest time in NJCAA history (22:36).
Maina’s national runner-up time of 22:41 also eclipsed the previous fastest men’s time in NJCAA history.
“It was an unbelievable race,” Phillips said.
Freshman Stanley Mugo (24:33) finished 12th and earned NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American recognition, while sophomore Dustin Garcia (25:18) placed 27th and garnered Coaches Association All-American honors.
“We never imagined Dustin would run that fast when we recruited him,” Phillips said. “He went from being the No. 1 guy on last year’s team to being third and really flourished in that role.”
The Tiger men finished three points ahead of sixth place Garden City and six points better than seventh place Paradise Valley (AZ.). Rend Lake took home the men’s team title as they finished 10 points in front of runner-up Central Arizona.
“I don’t know how we could have done any more, that is how good our men ran,” Phillips said.
Cowley loses Dailey from the women’s team and Garcia and Ferrien Harris (26:38, 85th) from the men’s team.
“Those three put in a tremendous amount of hard work and were key to the teams success,” Phillips said.
With 11 freshman getting a chance to compete at the national championships, the future looks extremely bright for the Tiger cross country teams.
“This sets us up to be even better next year,” Phillips said. “Where we went this year is a testament to what this group of kids has come in here and done.”
Cowley men’s results: (2) Maina, 22:41, NJCAA First-Team All-American; (12) Mugo, 24:33, NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American; (27) Garcia, 25:18, Coaches Association All-American; (50) Mauricio Morales, 25:52; (85) Ferrien Harris, 26:38; (89) Brett Koehn, 26:41; (144) Gilbert Manzanares, 27:58.
Cowley women’s results: (4) Irene Kosgei, 18:31, NJCAA First-Team All-American; (5) Jeniffer Cherono, 18:46, NJCAA First-Team All-American; (14) Ashley Cronin, 19:37, NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American/Coaches Association All-American; (68) Christy Buller, 20:55; (75) Patricia Dailey, 21:12; (92) Brenna Martinez, 21:40; (127) Bethany Schmidt, 22:38.