IOLA, Kan. - With history on their minds and the recent history of three consecutive fourth-place finishes, the Cloud County Community College men's cross country team made program history by winning the NJCAA Region VI Cross Country Championships at the Allen County Country Club in Iola, Kansas on Saturday, October 26th.
The team title comes as the T-Birds ar just four years removed from an 11th place finish at the championships as a complete turnaround now has the program on top after finishing in the team race with a total of 35 points. Cloud County's next closest competitor in the team race was Hutchinson Community College with 56 total points while host Allen Community College took third with 77 total points. Coming in fourth was Colby Community College with 103 points wile Fort Scott rounded out the top five with 157 points. Butler (175), Cowley (197), Dodge City (201), Highland (201), Northwest Kansas Tech (225) and Coffeyville (313) also posted team scores in the competition to round out the field.
"I am extremely proud of all of our runners today" said head coach Drew Mahin in a post-race interview. "To have all of our runners finish in the top 15 at the regional meet is a pretty special feeling." "At the beginning of the year we found out we would only have six runners for the season and I told that guys that all we has is all we need if we do what we're capable of." "The leadership from 1-6 has been there every week and they have always kept things in perspective about being good teammates and not letting the number one ranking get to them." "It showed today against top NJCAA competition and they made history, so they should all be extremely proud of this accomplishment."
CCCC's top finisher was Dais Malebana with a third-place individual finish with a time of 24:22.75 to lead the six T-Bird runners as all six finished in the top 15. No other school would have more than three top-15 finishers in the race as Cloud County's average time of 25:26 was 34 seconds better than the next closest team. The T-Birds would get a sixth-place finish from Kwanele Mthembu with a time of 25:07.65 while Saba Khvichava took seventh and Habtamu Geta took eighth with times of 25:24.93 and 25:57.98. Ablel Gebreselase took 11th overall with a time of 26:18.16 and Gabriel Chinya finished things off for CCCC with a 15th place finish in a time of 26:42.74.
One final race and the biggest test of the year is yet to come for the T-Birds as Cloud County will travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico to run in the 2019 NJCAA National Championships on Saturday, November 9th. Last season, the T-Birds fiished sixth overall at the National Meet and were led by a fourth-place finish from Dennis Kiptoo. CCCC also finished 13th at the 2016 and 2017 National Meets.