T-Birds earn best team finish at NJCAA Track and Field Championships since 2004

The Cloud County men's track  team finished third at the NJCAA Track and Field Championships
The Cloud County men's track team finished third at the NJCAA Track and Field Championships

LUBBOCK, Texas — For the first time in over a decade, the Cloud County Community College men's track and field team brought home national hardware as a team, finishing third overall with 75 points over the weekend at the NJCAA Track and Field Championships, hosted by Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

The third-place finish is the best for a Cloud County men's team at the national meet since 2004 when the T-Birds took second overall.

"It's not easy getting a national trophy against these teams like Barton, Iowa Central and South Plains and the other top schools around the country.," said Cloud County men's head track coach, Harry Kitchener. South Plains and Barton finished first and second. "We feel very fortunate to get in the top-3. We had a lot of young freshmen on the team and contributing athletes."

The T-Birds recorded nine top-5 finishes, highlighted by national championships in back-to-back events Friday from the distance medley relay team of Longins Kouri, Lesley Mahlakoane, Stephen Marindich and Moses Dirane, and by sophomore Thobile Mosito in the 5,000-meter run.

Cloud County's DMR team, which was ranked No. 1 heading into the weekend, ran a time of 10:11.40, nearly four full seconds faster than second-place Trinidad State.

Mosito's championship run in the 5,000-meter was in 14:57.29, giving him a comfortable eight-second win over Ikageng Gaorekwe from Central Arizona.

Dirane, Mosito and Marindich all earned individual second-place finishes on the weekend, and claimed a runner-up finish in the men's 4X800-meter relay alongside Kouri as they posted a mark of 7:43.00.

That trio continued to own the middle distance and long distance events as Mosito took second in the 3,000-meter run (8:35.75), Dirane was runner-up in the 1,000-meter run (2:30.97), and Marindich crossed the line in 1:54.15 in the 800-meter run.

Marindich and Kouri, who finished fifth in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:02.02, had key performances for Cloud County that "solidified our spot in the top-3," according to Kitchener.

The T-Birds also received a handful of standout performances from field event athletes as sophomore thrower Vashon McCarthy followed up his second-place finish in the men's shot put at the Region VI/KJCCC Championships two weeks ago with a third-place finish (57'4.25'') on Saturday.

Freshman jumper Peter Ackah found the podium twice, finishing fourth in the triple jump (49'7.75'') and sixth in the men's long jump (23'10.75'').

Fellow freshmen Kyle Alcine and Louis Humbert each had top-10 finishes in their respective events as Alcine took seventh in the high jump (6'10.75'') and Humbert placed sixth in the men's Heptathlon with 4, 881 points, just ahead of sophomore teammate Robson Yinambe (9th, 4,372 points).

Wesley Logorava ran a personal record time of 21.67 in the 200-meter dash, as well, to round out Cloud County's top performances.

The T-Birds will have 12 days to relax and celebrate before they go back to work for the outdoor season, starting on Thursday, March 15 at Southwestern in Winfield, KS.

"We have a young team with a lot of contributors. We could have a very good outdoor season," Kitchener said. "We have a lot of the additional outdoor events covered and some events we're better in than indoor, which should make for an interesting outdoor season."