Cloud County Men's Cross Country Team Finishes 11th at NJCAA Division I Championships
An All-American 12th place individual finish from sophomore Awet Beraki would lead the Cloud County Community College men's cross country team to an 11th-place team finish at the 2021 NJCAA Division I Men's Cross Country National Championships at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville, Virginia on Saturday, November 13th.
"This is the deepest men's NJCAA race that I can remember as a coach" said head coach Drew Mahin in a post-race interview. "Our Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference West Division had eight of the top-15 runners in the race and to race at the top-25 level you have to be NCAA caliber." "Awet Beraki had a good race, but didn't quite have a perfect race to crack the top-10 today." "Awet, along with Michael Iyali and Kelvin Kemboi ran solid races and set a blistering pace in the first mile." "We missed having Edwin Kipainoi with us for the team score, but I am extremely proud of the way the rest of our guys in Linus Limo, Elmer Sotelo, and Rylan Cheney raced and the effort that they showed." "This group will look much different next year, but I really appreciate the leadership they all showed as T-Birds this year."
As a team, Cloud County would score a total of 259 points as three of CCCC's runners would finish in the top-30 individually to put the T-Birds one point back of 10th-place Hagerstown Community College. Defending National Champion and unanimous number-one Iowa Central would defend their crown with four runners in the top-15 to run away with the win by 60 points over National Runner-Up Iowa Western (127 Points) while Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference School and Region VI Champion Colby would finish third with 140 points. Rounding out the top-10 would be Trinidad State (153 Points), Northwest Kansas Tech (177 Points), El Paso Community College (195 Points), New Mexico Junior College (200 Points), Central Arizona (208 Points), Southern Idaho (239 Points), and Hagerstown.
Beraki's 12th-place finish would come in a time of 24:41.60 while Michael Iyali would finish back in 27th place with a time of 25:35.30. Running his second-best time of the season to finish 31st would be Kelvin Kemboi in a time of 25:45.40 while Linus Limo earned a 95th-place finish (27:32.20) to put four Cloud County runners in the top-100. CCCC would also have Elmer Sotelo (117th, 28:09.60) and Rylan Cheney (129th, 28:29.10) also run in the race that featured 197 individuals.
The race caps off the cross country portion of the 2021 schedule for Cloud County as the T-Birds won two meets (Terry Masterson Twilight Classic and the FHSU Tiger Open) along with two other top-five finishes (Greeno/Dirksen Invitational and the NJCAA Region VI Championships). CCCC will also compete as a team in this Tuesday's NJCAA 1/2 Marathon Championships in the Richmond metropolitan area with the race expected to field the largest number of entries in NJCAA 1/2 Marathon Championship history. Fans wanting to follow along to Tuesday's race can do so with live results being posted at the following link: 2021 NJCAA 1/2 Marathon Championship Results.