LEVELLAND, Texas—Pace yourself.
That was the game plan South Plains College cross country coach Frank Barker passed on to freshman standout Felix Kosgei at the South Plains College Cross Country Invitational on Saturday.
Kosgei aborted that plan, as the Eldoret, Kenya native dominated the field en route to helping the Texans take first overall and finish with a final tally of 20 points. Wayland Baptist placed second with 53 points, while Lubbock Christian placed third with 61.
"Felix dominated. He didn't stick to the game plan, but that's ok," Barker said. "We were going to lay back a little today and then take off, but he got a mile into the race and decided it was time to takeover."
Kosgei crossed the finish line at the 25:49 mark of the men's 8K, placing first amongst 73 runners. The Texans' Omero Rodriguez and Jose Silva placed second and third with final times of 26:07 and 26:15, respectively, while Deric Martinez finished sixth with a time of 26:48.
Sophomore Connor Hughes placed eighth for South Plains with a final time of 26:57, while Nicholas Rotich placed 14th with a final mark of 27:14.
"I think the men are on target," Barker said. "I think these guys are setting themselves up to be a contender for the national title. The way our guys are coming along and kind of closing things down, we're going to make a run at it."
On the women's side, the Lady Texans held their own against an elite field and went on to place third overall after placing three runners inside the top 10. Seselia Dala, a freshman from Amarillo, Texas continues to be one of the top competitors in the NJCAA after finishing third overall on Saturday with a final time of 18:37 in the women's 5K.
Leslie Romero placed sixth for the Lady Texans with a time of 19:13, while sophomore Poro Gahekave finished 10th with her final mark of 19:47. Wayland Baptist took first with 46 points, with Lubbock Christian University placing second with 53 points.
"I thought from top to bottom on both the men's and women's sides we had a good race today," Barker said. "The course was really sandy which would slow the times a little bit, but was I was looking at was seeing how well they competed and got after it. They competed very very well, and I didn't find very many flaws."
South Plains will be back action next week as they are set to travel to Hobbs, New Mexico on Oct. 14 and compete at the University of the Southwest.