LEVELLAND — The South Plains College men's and women's cross country teams will look to add to their trophy case come Saturday when they host the NJCAA Region V Cross Country Championships at Brashear Lake Park in Levelland.
The women's 5k will get underway at 10:45 a.m., followed by the men's 8k at 11:15.
The Texans come into the weekend ranked third in the latest USTFCCCA polls and are also the defending Region V champions. The Texans earned a perfect score a year ago, sweeping the top five spots en route to the regional title at Harry McAdams Park in Hobbs.
South Plains is led by All-American Felix Kosgei, a sophomore from Eldoret, Kenya who has placed first in four of five meets in 2017. Kosgei set a course record his last time out at the SPC Open in Levelland on Oct. 7 with a time of 25:24.80 in the men's 8k. The Texans placed four runners inside the top 10 in their previous outing and continue to solidify their claim as one of the top programs in the country.
"I think this is one of the best groups I've had as far as one through seven goes," South Plains assistant coach Frank Barker said. "These guys run together and run well, and we need a couple of guys to kind of get better than what they've been showing. I've been talking to them about staying with each other when they finish, and honestly, I think this is a better group overall than what we had last year."
The Lady Texans will also be eyeing gold come Saturday and enter the meet ranked No. 11 in the country. The Lady Texans are led by a sophomore trio comprised of Leslie Romero, Seselia Dala and Poro Gahekave.
In their previous meet on their home course, Romero placed third in the women's 5k with a time of 18:35.70. Dala and Gahekave placed sixth and ninth with times of 19:15.10 and 20:05.82, respectively. A veteran group with a championship mindset, Barker knows this group is ready to take the starting line and prove themselves worthy of a regional crown.
"We've been fortunate this year to run on some really tough courses, and I think that prepares you for everything that comes up," Barker said. "We were out on the course yesterday, and from the last time we ran where there were spots that were muddy and soggy, it's really firm now and I think they're going to run fast. I really think we're going to see some fast times from both the men and women."
The meet will be streaming live at spctexans.com and can be accessed at the link below.
Erik Vance and Frank Barker talk 2017 Cross Country Regional Championships in Levelland.