LEVELLAND—The South Plains College Texan and Lady Texan cross country teams will begin their 2017 campaign on Saturday at the Chaparral Ridge Golf Course in Lubbock as they look to build on a pair of top 10 national finishes a season ago.
"With this group we've got, I was impressed," South Plains head track and field coach Erik Vance said. "I thought they showed up very fit, and I thought they showed up ready to work. With what workouts I've seen so far, I'm very impressed with what we got."
A look back:
The Texans will take to the course as the defending Region V champions, as all eyes will be on returning South Plains' All-American Felix Kosgei. The Kenya native led the Texans to a third place finish at the 2016 Cross Country National Championships in El Dorado, Kansas in 2016. Kosgei took fifth at nationals with a 24:51.09 mark amongst 298 runners, and it's no secret the Texans will look to their sophomore standout to pave the course for a run at a national title.
"Felix I think, with some of the things we've done this fall, we went to Southland and ran this past weekend and he absolutely hammered it," South Plains head cross country coach Frank Barker said. "I think he will be a big factor wherever he runs, and people will know that he's there.
"On the other side of it, we have Leo (Michel) that comes back from last year. He was a walk-on that we put on scholarship this year because he worked so hard and he did a pretty decent job. All the rest of them are freshmen. As they used to say, 'that's a turkey shoot,' and you just don't know what they're going to do."
Take the next step:
The Lady Texans will return a trio of All-Americans in Seselia Dala, Leslie Romero, and Poro Gahekave. Dala, a native of Amarillo, TX placed 10th at nationals as a freshman with a time of 18:20.27 amongst 313 runners. Romero went on to place 14th with a time of 18:35.20, while Gahekave finished 22nd with a mark of 18:50.88.
"The girls that we have have shown me a lot in practice," Barker said. They came in very fit, and I think you're going to see some big things out of Seselia and Poro and Leslie as they get through the season. They came in pretty fit and I was really excited when Seselia came in after our first workout because it was quite obvious she worked. Some of our younger kids that haven't run cross country in a long time are a little behind, but we hope we can get them caught up."
The Texans will get underway on Saturday at roughly 8:00 a.m. in the men's 8k, followed by the women's 5k which is set to begin at 8:35 a.m. A full recap and complete results will be posted online at spctexans.com following the meet.
South Plains track and field head coach Erik Vance, along with head cross country coach Frank Barker talked about the upcoming season, which can be seen in the video below: