PITTSBURG, KS — The South Plains College men's and women's track and field teams capped the indoor season with a pair of top-five national finishes Saturday at the NJCAA Indoor National Championships at the Robert W. Plaster Center.
The Lady Texans earned a third-place team finish with 63 points, as Barton County took first with 119 points, followed by New Mexico Junior College who placed second with 103 points. The Texans finished fifth overall in the men's team standings with 53 points, as Iowa Central took first with 90.5 points, followed by Barton County (80), Cloud County (63), and Coffeyville (59.5).
"I was really impressed over the last two days with our effort and the way our kids competed," South Plains head coach Erik Vance said. "We had a lot of kids who ran their fastest times this season and were fighting for positions in places where it might not matter in the end. Our kids went out and went for it, and I feel good about where we're at and they gave it everything they had."
Sophomore Ruth Usoro got things rolling for the Lady Texans on Saturday in the women's 60-meter dash, posting a time of 7.56, earning a fifth-place national finish and four points. In the women's mile run, Dorcus Ewoi and Gladys Jemaiyo combined for 13 points as Ewoi was crowned national champion as she placed first overall with a 5:03.16. Jemaiyo finished just six seconds behind in 5:09.46, good enough for sixth.
South Plains added eight more points in the women's triple jump as Usoro turned in a second-place national finish, posting a mark of 41' 0.25" on her fifth attempt. The Lady Texans picked up five points in the 4x800 meter relay as Itzel Garcia-Santos, Nyia Sena, Angela Rodriguez, and Lynda Martinez took fourth in 9:36.25.
South Plains would end the meet with a sixth-place finish in the women's 4x400 as Janiel Moore, Patrice Moody, Hanah Mills, and Elon'a Jones placed sixth and tacked on three points with a time of 3:58.34.
"On the women's side, we took 14 girls up there and got third place, and I think that's pretty good," Vance said. "Dorcus I don't think still understand how good she is. She's a great competitor and is tough and runs hard, and when you practice with someone as talented as Gladys, it makes you not realize your own talent. I was really excited for her to win the mile and run as good as she did in the 3k on Friday night."
On the men's side, the Texans tacked on nine points in the 60-meter hurdles as Deion Lightfoot placed third in 8.04, and Devaughn Whymns took sixth with a time of 8.13. Sophomore Holland Martin capped the indoor season with a second place finish in the triple jump, soaring 51' 5.50" on his third attempt, piling on eight points for South Plains.
In the men's 60-meter dash, South Plains' Willari Watson turned in a sixth-place overall finish, crossing the line in 6.81 to pick up three points. The Texans would end the meet with a fifth-place finish in the men's 4x800 meter relay as Japhet Toroitich, Ulises Cardoza, Andrew Bosquez, and Yusuf Mohammed turned in a final time of 7:50.55.
"Our guys went out and got after it, and we were a couple of injuries and illnesses away from being in the hunt, and that's the kind of stuff you can't do a lot about," Vance said. "When there are double-digit points sitting on the sidelines in a couple of different places, it can be tough to overcome. Things like that are going to happen and you just have to hope you're deep enough get through it. Our guys battled and gave it everything the possibly could, and I feel good about where we're at heading into the outdoor season."
Day one recap:
Sophomore Bryson Deberry was the top point getter for the Texans on Friday in the men's high jump, racking up eight points with a second place national finish, clearing 7' 0.50". Sophomore Holland Martin also turned in a second place finish in the long jump, soaring 25' 0" to tack on eight points for the Texans.
South Plains picked up six more points in the long jump as first-year jumper Devaughn Whymns placed third, turning in a final mark of 24' 7.75". In the men's pole vault, freshman Rylan Olguin earned a fourth-place national finish, tallying five points for the Texans, clearing 14' 9". Freshman Alex Kitum capped day one with a seventh-place finish and two points for South Plains, crossing the line at 8:31.79.
National record holder Gladys Jemaiyo, a freshman from Kenya competing in her first national meet placed third in the women's 5000 meters, clocking a final time of 17:16.70. The Lady Texans tacked on 14 points in the women's 3000 as Jemaiyo and Dorcus Ewoi went 2-3, with Jemaiyo crossing the line in 10:11.58, while Ewoi ran a 10:12.79.
In the women's long jump, sophomore Ruth Usoro picked up eight points, placing second with a final mark of 19' 7". The Lady Texans tacked on two points in the women's distance medley relay as Dorcus Ewoi, Hanah Mills, Itzel Garcia-Santos, and Nyia Sena placed seventh with a time of 12:45.48.
Full results: https://live.athletic.net/meets/2135/scores