The South Plains College men’s cross country team defended their regional team title after placing first at the NJCAA Region V Cross Country Championship.
South Plains College hosted the Region V Cross Country Championship at Brasher Lake park in Levelland on Oct. 28.
The Texans competed in the men’s 8k-race, with three runners placing in the top 10. SPC finished the race with an average time of 25:28.70.
“Our men’s team continues to perform well,” said Erik Vance, head track and field coach at SPC. “Being able to win a postseason meet such as a regional championship is always great for the program.”
Leading the Texans and placing first overall was sophomore All-American Felix Kosgei, who posted a time of 24:36.08. Kosgei led the field of 35 throughout most of the race, increasing his pace and distance from the pack to coast to another first-place finish.
Freshman Andrew Bosquez displayed his skills to stay behind Kosgei throughout the race, finishing with a time of 24:47.71 and placing second overall.
A host of Texans stayed within striking distance, placing fifth, sixth and seventh as well to secure their second consecutive regional championship.
Freshman Filmon Beyene led the group of three, placing fifth with a time of 25:43.45. Freshman Jessie Madrid placed sixth with a time of 26:00.90, and freshman Benjamin Rono placed seventh with a time of 26:15.33.
Also competing for the Texans was freshman Erik Arambula, who finished 20th after posting a time of 27:02.45, and sophomore Michel Leoardo, who finished 22nd with a time of 27:17.06.
With a men’s team consisting of mainly freshmen, Coach Vance is pleased with the way the team has handled themselves throughout the year, as well as at the regional meet.
“We weren’t sure what to expect from this group at the beginning of the year,” said Coach Vance, “but these young guys have stepped up and are ready to keep competing in the future.”
The Lady Texans were unable to place in the women’s team standings at the Regional V meet due to only having four runners compete because of injuries.
“We had a girl out due to an illness, so our girls ran as individuals, but we competed well overall and worked hard to finish in the top 15,” explained Coach Vance.
Three of the four Lady Texans placed in the top 10, with the fourth runner falling short of the top 10 by a matter of 37 seconds in the women’s 3k race.
Leading the Lady Texans was sophomore Leslie Romero, who placed second after posting a time of 17:44.40. Romero swapped places between first and second throughout the race as she continued to increase her pace through the final stretch. Although Romero fell short of first place, she did set a personal record for the race.
Following behind Romero was sophomore Seselia Dala, who placed third with a time of 17:54.70. Dala was able to edge out a New Mexico Junior College runner as the finish line neared to earn a top-three spot.
Sophomore Poro Gahekave battled multiple El Paso Community College runners to place seventh for the Lady Texans with a time of 18:57.10.
Sophomore Caitlyn Mercer finished 14th out of 38 runners with a time of 19:57.20.
“Overall, I was pleased with the way both teams competed, and both our boys and girls teams are sure to make an impact for us in nationals,” said Coach Vance.
Both the men’s and women’s teams will travel to Fort Dodge, Iowa, for the NJCAA Cross Country National Championship on Nov. 11.
Photos By: DOMINICK PUENTE/ PLAINSMAN PRESS