2017 NJCAA Cross Country National Championship Preview

2017 NJCAA Cross Country National Championship Preview

The South Plains College men's and women's cross country teams will travel to Fort Dodge, Iowa this weekend for the 2017 NJCAA Cross Country Championships at the Lakeside Golf Course on Nov. 11.

The men's 8k will get underway at 11 a.m., followed by the women's 5k at noon.

The Texans enter the meet ranked third in the latest national polls and will look to end a 20-year drought when they take the starting line. South Plains last won the men's national title in 1997, and this team has its eye on filling that void and adding a new banner to the rafters come race time.

"I feel good about our team and they have put the work in over the course of the year, and I'm just hoping things go right for us at the national meet and we can really do something special," South Plains head coach Erik Vance said. "Coach Barker really has them going and they've amped up their workouts the past couple weeks. We're trying to instill some confidence in our kids and let them know they can go up there and be successful and run with anyone that's in the meet."

The Texans will look to remain perfect as they have won every meet they have competed in this season. South Plains is led by sophomore All-American Felix Kosgei who won the Region V title his last time out at the Region V Championships in Levelland. Andrew Bosquez and Filmon Beyene played a crucial role in helping the Texans capture the Regional crown as they placed third and fifth for South Plains, and will look for a repeat performance come Saturday.

"I think physically we're where we need to be," assistant coach Frank Barker said. "We're trying to keep their legs fresh so they can go up there and run well. In the past I've always heard 'we need to beat Iowa Central,' and I'm listening to these guys and their attitude is these guys need to beat us. When you go up there with that kind of confidence it really helps with the mental preparation and helps you to stay focused."

The Lady Texans come into the meet ranked 10th in the national polls and are coming off their best outing of the year heading into nationals. In their previous meet at regionals, all four Lady Texans who competed set new personal best and placed three runners inside the top 10. The Lady Texans were unable to place in the team standings as they competed with just four runners due to injuries, which didn't stop this veteran group from putting together their best performance of the year.

Sophomore Leslie Romero placed third overall amongst 38 runners with a time of 17:44.40, while Seselia Dala placed fourth with a time of 17:54.70.  Poro Gahekave placed eighth with her time of 18:57.10, and Lubbock native Caitlyn Mercer battled her way into the top 15 as the sophomore ran a 19:57.20 to place 14th overall.

The Lady Texans will be at full strength come race time as they look to scratch their way into the top of the pack and shake up the final standings.

"We want these girls to show these teams that their worth the money and they've been running that way all year," Barker said. "You go back to the regional meet, if we would have had a full team we would have played a big factor in it. Whether we would have won it or not would be up for grabs but we would have definitely determined who did win it."  

The meet will be streaming live and can be accessed at the link below. A full recap and results will be posted following the meet which can be found by visiting www.spctexans.com

Watch Live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whUGxh-QFNw