Cross Country Nationals
Central men second, women third in national cross country meet
Freshman Tyson David won the NJCAA national cross country meet and led defending champion Central Arizona College’s men’s team to a second-place finish Nov. 4 in El Paso, Texas.
Central’s women’s team, also the defending national champion, ran third in the women’s meet. It had been ranked No. 4.
As a team the Vaqueros took three of the top six spots but finished 10 points behind Rend Lake College of Ina, Ill. David’s winning time was a minute and 11 seconds ahead of teammate Joseph Simuchimba, the defending national champ, who finished fifth. Central freshman Mohamud Ige was sixth.
Central’s drive to repeat as men’s national champion faded as team scoring dropped off after Tyson, Simuchimba and Ige. Freshman Weston Jones was 32nd and sophomore Erik Burciaga was 37th. Rend Lake’s leading runner was third, but the team rounded out its scoring with ninth, 11th, 19th and 26th positions. Sophomore Scott Campbell finished 60th and Mark Saraficio was 90th but did not score for Central.
Rounding out the top five men’s teams were Butler County (Kansas) Community College, South Plains (Texas) College and Cowley (Kansas) Community College.
As defending national champs, Central’s women’s team finished third, just two points behind Johnson County (Kansas) Community College and two ahead of Cowley. South Plains won the women’s meet. Butler rounded out the top five teams.
Sophomore Everylyne Chepkorir-Matonyei led the Vaqueras with her 18th-place finish. Rounding out scoring for Central were freshman Lina Burciaga, 21st; sophomore Leandra Thomas, 29th; freshman Janeen Yazzie, 40th; and freshman Tierra Blacksheep, 54th. Sophomore Irene Rono, 60th, and freshman Meaghan Ryan, 99th, finished but did not score for Central.
After his teams’ Region I championships Central coach Mike Gray put Central’s teams among the top five prospective winners of the national meet. “When it comes to a race like the nationals, anything can happen,” said the coach, whose prediction pegged the top five teams and whose forecast proved accurate.
“All and all I would say that we had a very good year,” Gray said. “I would be lying if I were to say that we were not disappointed in the men’s second-place finish.
“We worked very hard all year, but Rend Lake was better than we were on Saturday. They ran an exceptional race, and that is what you need to do to win the national meet.
“Our women’s team was ranked fourth going into the meet and finished third. You can’t ask for more than that.”
Central’s men’s team won national championships in 1988, 2002, 2003 and last year. Last year’s national title was the first for the college’s women’s team.