South Plains Men, New Mexico JC Women Claim NJCAA Division I Outdoor Championships

HUTCHINSON, Kan.The 2017 NJCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships came to a conclusion on Saturday evening at Gowans Stadium, and the results featured a program that continued its stranglehold on the sport as well as a relatively new face.

The men’s program from South Plains (Texas) won for an astounding 11th year in a row, while the New Mexico JC women’s team completed a sweep of the 2017 season by winning the outdoor title to go along with its indoor championship from earlier this year.

South Plains athletes finished in the top-10 in 15 events and took home 13 top-3 finishes to accumulate 126 team points. Barton (Kan.) finished 2nd in the team standings with 98 points followed by Iowa Central CC with 73.

New Mexico JC’s run to its 1st outdoor national championship was due to 24 top-10 performances by Thunderbird athletes, which yielded 97 team points. Barton (Kan.) finished as the national runner-up with 83.5 followed by Iowa Central CC with 71.

Below are highlights for from the winning programs.

MEN

• South Plains swept 1st and 2nd place in the 110 hurdles as well as the 400 hurdles. Robert Dunning posted the best time in the 110 hurdles with a time of 13.81, followed by William Watson at 13.99. Okeen Williams clocked in at 51.85 in the 400 hurdles to take first place – just in front of teammate Rayan Holmes at 52.49.

Laquan Nairn of South Plains leaped to an individual national title in the triple jump with a distance of 15.18m (49-93/4). He also placed 2nd in the long jump with a mark of 7.38m (24-21/2).

• Other notable performances for South Plains: Adrian Williams – 2nd, javelin (60.25m/197-8); Saahir Betha – 3rd, triple jump (14.75m/48-43/4); Patrick Johnson – 3rd, decathlon (6,537); Nicholas Rotich – 3rd, steeplechase (9:26.02); Junior Charles, Jordan Atkinson, Williams and Montel Hood – 2nd, 4×400 (3:08.38); Dekaryea Freeman, Rotich, Robert Downs, Jr., Omero Rodriguez – 3rd, 4×800 (7:40.88)

WOMEN

Esther Gitahi took home the most hardware for New Mexico, winning individual national titles in the 5,000 meters with a time of 17:28.44 and setting a new championship meet record in the steeplechase – clocking in at 10:35.17. Gitahi also placed second in the 1,500 (4:43.85).

Latavia Coombs also took home an individual title for the Thunderbirds. She posted the best mark in the triple jump with her leap of 13.03m (42-9). Coombs also finished second in the heptathlon with 4,778 points.

• Other notable performances for New Mexico: D’Jai Baker – 2nd, 400m (25:38); Teresha Jacobs – 3rd, steeplechase (11:15.35); Hanifah Abdul-Qadir – 3rd, high jump (1.68m/5-61/4)