CCCC men capture first NJCAA Outdoor championship
HOBBS. N.M. — A balanced performance throughout the meet, and a little luck at the end, delivered the Cloud County Community College its first ever NJCAA National Outdoor Track and Field championship.
Getting one individual championship by Dennis Kiptoo in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and scoring in 10 events, Cloud County put up 88 points and edged Barton Community College (83 points) for the national title at Ross Black Field of Champions.
Cloud County had the five point lead on Barton in a battle of Kansas schools heading into the final event of the meet, the 4x400 relay.
Barton County was ranked number one in the event, and needed to finish just third or better to take over first place in the meet.
The Cougars were called for a false start before the race started, and the T-Birds were national champs.
'We knew if Barton got fourth in the race we'd tie, third or better, they'd win and we thought that was going to be the scenario. When the false start happened, it was just a lot of excitement for our entire guys and girls squads,” Cloud County head coach Harry Kitchener said, “It feels unbelievable. We've been knocking on the door for years, finishing as runner-up or in the top three to top five. We can run with these guys, and most of the team we are competing against are full-ride scholarship programs. It feels great we were finally able to break through.”
South Plains finished a close third in the team race with 80.5 points.
The Cloud County women had one individual champion in Grace Chinonyelum in the triple jump, and finished seventh as a team with 57.25 points.
“We had a lot of individuals step up and have unbelievable marks the last few days,” Cloud County women's coach Ted Schmitz said, “And that's exactly what you want to see this time of year. You hope all the training and being at the national meet, the kids will take it to the next level.”
New Mexico Junior College won the team title with 105.75 points. Barton was second with 97 and Iowa Central Community College was third with 83.
The Cloud County men had a team lead throughout much of the meet, but lost it briefly.
Running in the next to last event, Kiptoo, a freshman, ran 1:14.51 to place second in the 5,000-meter run. Freshman teammate Kwanele Mthembu finished forth in 15:28.29 to give the Thunderbirds the team lead back.
“It was a crucial race. One we absolutely had to score points in,” Kitchener ,who was named Men's Coach of the Meet, said, “Kwanele and Dennis ran across the top talent in the country, and those 13 points were very, very important.”
Kiptoo won the steeplechase with a time of 9:20.99. He also finished second in the 10,000-meter run in 31:26.48.
Freshman Dais Malebana ran 1:54.55 to finish a close second in the 800-meter run. Rayon Buttler, West Texas, won the race in 1:54.42.
Malebana also placed third in the 1,500-meter run in 3:56.85 and freshman Santino Kenyi was fifth in 3:59.46.
“Dais Malebana was our savior getting that third in the 1,500 and second in the 800 after not being ranked in the top ten,” Kitchener said, “Dais performed excellent. His two races ended up being very, very important.”
Kyle Alcine, a sophomore, cleared 6-10 to place third in the high jump for the T-Birds.
Sophomore Lesley Mahlakoane broke the Cloud County school record in the 400-meter dash on his way to a fourth-place finish in 46.41. That bettered the old mark of 46.54 set by Jumanne Washington in 1993.
“Lesley ran an exceptional race. Coach Schmitz has had the quarter-mile group on board and hitting unbelievable marks. He gets all the credit for the growth of Lesley and Tanner (Brown) in the 400 meters. Those were a huge five points by Lesley,” Kitchener said.
Brown, a sophomore, scored 6,037 points to finish fourth in the decathlon for the T-Birds.
Sophomore Louis Humbert placed fourth in the pole vault by clearing 15-1.
Murphy Bavinga, a sophomore, went 51-3/4 to finish sixth in the triple jump.
Sophomore Jerrod Hoover placed sixth in the javelin with a toss of 176-9 ¾.
Cloud County added the national championship to the first Region VI/KJCCC outdoor title.
“It was a complete team effort with a lot of kids that contributed along the way in winning the Region VI and KJCCC West Championships. We have kids back home who helped us with those championships,” Kitchener said, “We had a lot of people cheering for us and we've made a lot of people happy. They were happy to see the little community college knock off the top dogs.”
The Cloud County women were led by Chinonyelum, a freshman.
After winning the national indoor title in the triple jump, Chinonyelum shattered her own school record of 43-10 by going 45-9 ¾ to capture the outdoor title.
“Grace's triple jump was an unbelievable jump, probably one of, if not the best, triple jump for a freshman in any college anywhere,” Schmitz said, “She was definitely focused and she's a strong, determined athlete. All the things came together at the right time for her.”
Chinonyelum also finished in a three-way tie for second-place in the high jump by clearing 5-4, placed fifth in the long jump with a leap of 19-8 1/2 and ran as an alternate with Chanice Forbes, Myflore Methelus and Jacqueline Pokuaah on Cloud County's 4x100 relay team that finished seventh in 47.99.
Cloud County got a second-place finish by Jessica Williams, a freshman from Concordia, in the pole vault. She cleared a career-best 12-1 ½. Freshman Sophie Jones made 11-2 ¼ to tie for fifth place.
Pokuaah, a freshman, broke the Cloud County school record on her way to placing third in the long jump with a best of 20-7 ¾. She was also fifth in the 100-meter hurdles in 14.08.
Sophomore Shanee Angol threw 143-9 to place third in the javelin.
Kenisha Stubbs, a sophomore, finished fourth in the 400-meter hurdles with a school-record time of 1:02.92.
Cloud County's 4x400 relay team of Forbes, Pokuaah, Stubbs and Tanya Harcum ran 4:02.61 to place seventh.
Methelus, a sophomore who was ranked 20th in the 100-meter dash going into the meet, ran 12.10 to place eighth.