HOBBS, New Mexico—Ranked third in the country in the latest USTFCCCA national coaches' poll, the South Plains College men's cross country team was the favorite heading into Saturday's NJCAA Region V Championships at Harry McAdams Park.
The Texans lived up to that ranking, sweeping the top five positions en route to a perfect team score, clinching the regional title behind an undaunted performance.
Felix Kosgei, a freshman from Eldoret, Kenya continues to solidify his claim as one the nation's elite in the men's 8K after his fifth first place finish this season. Kosgei crossed the finish line at the 24:18.80 mark, earning the top position amongst 34 runners. Omero Rodriguez finished just 11 seconds behind, as the freshman from Ozona, TX placed second with a final time of 24:29.29.
Jose Silva continued the Texans' dominance with his third place finish and final mark of 25:20.97. Deric Martinez would take fourth for South Plains with his time of 25:35.27, while Connor Hughes rounded out the top five with a final time of 26:25.71.
"Omero and Felix ran really well today, and I think that's Omero's best race since I've had him," South Plains cross country coach Frank Barker said. "The rest of our guys ran good, I can't say they ran great, but I think that great race for us is still out there. Felix is one of these guys who just works hard, and he's getting where I need him to be."
The Lady Texans entered Saturday's race ranked 11th in the country, and went on to place second in the region after placing two runners inside the top five and three inside the top 10 in the women's 5K.
Freshman Seselia Dala was the first Lady Texan to cross the finish line with a final time of 18:54.78, good enough for fourth amongst 37 runners. Leslie Romero took fifth with her time of 19:15.82, while Poro Gahekave finished seventh with a time of 19:36.96.
"Our women's team is kind of banged up a little bit, but I thought they went out there and competed really well," Barker said. "I was hoping we would run a little closer to El Paso, but the thing I liked about it was there was no quit in those girls. Every time I looked around, even if they were down, they were out there competing."
El Paso Community College took first in the women's division with 25 points, followed by South Plains (50), Ranger College (73) and New Mexico Junior College (83).
South Plains will have a week off before traveling to the NJCAA Cross Country Championships in El Dorado, Kansas to compete for a national championship on Nov. 12 at the Prarie Trails Golf Course.
Full results from this weekend can be found at spctexans.com