Top-ranked Texans gunning for NJCAA Cross Country Championships

Top-ranked Texans gunning for NJCAA Cross Country Championships

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LEVELLAND – The South Plains College Texans and Lady Texans will compete in their final cross country race this Saturday, Nov. 8, in Lubbock when they toe the line at the NJCAA Cross Country Championships held at Shadow Hills Golf Course.


South Plains College and Lubbock Sports are hosting the 2014 championship meet.

The South Plains College men took over the top spot in the NJCAA Cross Country polls on October 16.  The Texans claimed nine-of-11 first place votes in the latest poll released Oct. 30. 


South Plains College has not won a men's cross country championship since 1997 and it is the only event that has eluded head coach Chris Beene since his arrival at South Plains College in 2005.


"One of our goals as a program is to win all eight titles," Beene said referring to the NJCAA cross country, half marathon, indoor track, and outdoor track championships.  "The only championship that we have not been able to win is the men's cross country championship.  We have the best group of men's distance runners since I've been the coach, so we are hoping this is our year."


Winning the meet as the host would be an added bonus.


"It would be sweet to do it at home in front of a home crowd.  That would be awesome for our team."


The Texans have been led by sophomore Antibahs Kibiwott this season, who has won four of the five races he has competed in and is looking to improve upon his sixth-place finish at the 2013 NJCAA Cross Country Championships held in Fort Dodge, Iowa.


Winning the individual title may be tough for Kibiwott with defending champion Harry Mulenga of Central Arizona in the field, but Kibiwott's head coach is not selling him short.


"It will be tough, but possible.  Mulenga is really good but Antibahs may have a shot if he runs really smart and can be close at the end of the race."


South Plains has a strong top-five contingent that includes sophomore Jose Martinez, a 15thplace finisher from a year ago, as well as newcomers Hassan Abdi and Kelvin Keter.  Sophomore Colton Hollis was SPC's fifth runner at the Region 5 Championships held Oct. 25 but also finished 21st at the NJCAA Championships a year ago.


The Lady Texans are also looking to make some noise as they enter the meet with a No. 10 NJCAA ranking.


Freshman Victoria Salvadores has been the top runner for the Lady Texans and has shown steady improvement throughout the year.  Lynda HansonKassidi JonesJ'Cee Holmes, and Kaitlyn Henderson round out the top five for the Lady Texans.


"Our women don't have a lot of depth, but they are a really tough group.  I know they will fight from start to finish.


"Both teams are ready to run and pretty healthy.  It's time to go lay it on the line."


The NJCAA National Cross Country meet is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. with the women's 5,000-meter race and will be followed by the men's 8,000-meter race at 11 a.m. 


Top 10 NJCAA Men

  1. South Plains College
  2. Iowa Central CC
  3. Central Arizona College
  4. El Paso CC
  5. Colby CC
  6. Allen County CC
  7. Lansing CC
  8. North Iowa Area CC
  9. Gillette College
  10. Iowa Western CC

Top 10 NJCAA Women

  1. Iowa Central CC
  2. El Paso CC
  3. Central Arizona College
  4. Lansing CC
  5. Butler CC
  6. Gillette College
  7. Paradise Valley CC
  8. Dodge City CC
  9. Iowa Western CC
  10. South Plains College