LEVELLAND — The South Plains College men's cross country team defended their regional crown on Saturday at Lake Brashear Park in Levelland as they captured their second consecutive NJCAA Region V Cross Country Championship title.
The Texans placed five runners inside the top 10 to finish with a final team average of 25:28.70. El Paso Community College placed second, followed by Ranger, Western Texas and Odessa College.
Sophomore All-American Felix Kosgei solidified his claim as the region's best as the Kenya native placed first overall for the fifth time on the year with a time of 24:36.08 in the men's 8k. Andrew Bosquez crossed the finish line at the 24:47.71 mark to earn a second-place finish. Filmon Beyene placed fifth for the orange and blue with a time of 25:43.45, while Jessie Madrid and Benjamin Rono placed sixth and seventh with times of 26:00.90 and 26:15.33, respectively.
"Our guys have really been rolling since the beginning of the season and came in here knowing we could run well," South Plains head coach Erik Vance said. "Our guys went out and ran smart and ran a solid championship style race, and if we keep doing that we'll have a chance at the national meet."
The Lady Texans placed two runners inside the top five and three inside the top 10 in the women's 5k on Saturday. Although unable to place in the team standings as they competed with just four runners due to injuries, the Lady Texans put together a championship performance as all four runners set new personal best.
Sophomore Leslie Romero placed third overall amongst 38 runners with a time of 17:44.40. Seselia Dala placed fourth with a time of 17:54.70, while Poro Gahekave placed eighth with her time of 18:57.10. Lubbock native Caitlyn Mercer battled her way into the top 15 as the sophomore ran a 19:57.20 to place 14th overall.
"All of our girls set new personal best today and that's what it's all about," South Plains assistant coach Frank Barker said. "We only had four runners today, and the way they went out can competed, I have nothing but praise for those girls and the way they went out and got after it. They have gone out every week and improved and they figured out what racing at this level is all about."
El Paso Community College won the women's regional title with a final team average of 19:05.74. New Mexico Junior College placed second, followed by Ranger, New Mexico Military Institute, and Odessa College.
South Plains will return to action when they travel to Fort Dodge, Iowa on Saturday, Nov. 11 for the 2017 NJCAA Cross Country National Championships.