SNYDER – The South Plains College men's and women's cross country teams wasted little time on Saturday as they swept the Western Texas College Open in their first outing of the 2018 season.
Led by freshman Alex Kitum, the Texans claimed the top five positions of the men's 8k en route to a first-place finish with a final team average of 27:47:24. Kitum was the first runner across the finish line, clocking a final time of 27:12 in his first collegiate appearance. Sophomore Filmon Beyene turned in a final time of 27:29 to take second, while sophomores Andrew Bosquez and Jessie Madrid placed third and fourth with times of 27:31 and 28:21, respectively. Kenya native Japhet Toroitich earned a fifth-place finish with a time of 28:24, while Erick Arambula turned in a time of 29:47, good enough for ninth.
"These guys are experienced except for a couple of freshmen, and they trained hard during the summer and came out and ran well today," South Plains assistant coach Frank Barker said. "I think this group has a great future ahead, and I think we're going to be tough to beat as the season continues."
The Lady Texans were just as impressive as they placed six runners, all freshmen competing in their first meet for South Plains, inside the top 10, taking first in the women's 5k with a final team average of 21:56:12.
Gladys Jemaiyo led the orange and blue with a time of 19:48 as she took the top spot in her first outing for the Lady Texans. South Plains' Dorcus Ewoi turned in a time of 20:28 to take second overall, while Lynda Martinez placed sixth and Nyia Sena took seventh with times of 22:45 and 23:05, respectively. Rocio Ramirez earned an eighth place overall finish with a time of 23:35, while Plains, Texas native Angela Rodriguez crossed the finish line at 23:50, good enough for ninth as the Lady Texans finished with 18 team points.
"I like the way our kids competed and they really got after it today on a very tough course," Barker said. "We did have some gaps between our third and fourth runners, and that's something we will work on as the season progresses. When you get spread out like that in a big meet in can hurt you, but overall I was really pleased with how both groups ran today."
South Pains will return to the course on Friday, Sept. 14 at the Texas Tech University Open, followed by a trip to Hobbs on Sept. 28 for the New Mexico Junior College Invitational.