2019 NJCAA DI Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll – Week 5

NEW ORLEANS – After being perched all season as the nation’s top teams, the Cloud County (Kan.) CC men and Iowa Central CC women finally get the opportunity to make history as the 2019 NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships are set for Saturday in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Men’s 8K race is set for 11 a.m. MT, with the Women’s 5K contest to follow at noon. The site will be the University of New Mexico North Golf Course as Albuquerque hosts the event for the first time.

From The USTFCCCA InfoZone: National Championships Central

Both the T-Birds and the Tritons headline the Pre-Championships Edition of the NJCAA Division I Cross Country National Coaches’ Polls, which were released today by the USTFCCCA.

NJCAA Division I — Men's Cross Country
This Week's National Top Five
Cloud County (Kan.) CC
Iowa Central CC
El Paso CC
Central Arizona
Southern Idaho
1
Cloud County (Kan.) CC
2
Iowa Central CC
3
El Paso CC
4
Central Arizona
5
Southern Idaho
Cross Country Polls & Rankings

Cloud County CC only has six athletes on its roster, but that hasn’t deterred the squad this season.

“I told the guys that all we have is all we need, if we do what we’re capable of,” T-Birds coach Drew Mahin told CloudTBirds.com recently.

Mahin’s athletes responded with impressive force, turning away every JUCO team – twice including powerful Iowa Central CC, last year’s national runner-up – en route to the school’s first-ever Region VI title. Doing that was no small feat as the region had seven nationally ranked teams, including four in the top-10.

Cloud County was sixth at last year’s national meet for its best-yet finish as an NJCAA DI program (it was fifth as a NJCAA DII member in 2002) and return three sophomores from that team, while adding three freshmen – most notably No. 1 runner Dais Malebana.

No. 2 Iowa Central has come the closest of any team to challenge Cloud County and Dee Brown’s squad is looking to add to its collection of three titles and three runner-up finishes in the last six years. The Tritons are coming off a seventh-straight Region XI title over five other nationally-ranked teams.

El Paso CC is No. 3 in the Pre-Championships Edition of the National Coaches’ Poll. The Tejanos return three top-10 runners from the team that finished third last year. This year’s group won Region V with 20 points and went 1-2-3-4 in each of its four victories and their only loss was by three points to NCAA Division I UTEP at the beginning of the season.

Defending champion Central Arizona is ranked No. 4 and has yet to lose to another JUCO team with its top unit. The Vaqueros won Region I with 22 points over two other nationally-ranked teams, and have four titles and three runner-up finishes in the last seven years.

Tied last week at No. 5 in the national poll, Southern Idaho inched ahead of  Iowa Western CC. The former were fifth at last year’s national meet after a sixth-place finish in 2017 and are looking to equal or exceed its best-ever finish of fourth (most recently in 1999). Iowa Western is fielding a full team for the first time since 2016 and aiming to better their best-ever finish of seventh (most recently in 2010).

Individual Race Preview

The individual battle should also be exciting as this will be the first time most of the best runners have seen each other. Defending champ Andrew Kibet of Hutchinson (Kan.) CC hasn’t been up to the same level that saw him win five of six races last year. He was fifth in the star-studded Region VI race with a best finish of second at the Terry Masterson Twilight Classic back in late August.

Wesley Banguria of Colby (Kan.) CC is undefeated in four races and earned National Athlete of the Week honors with each victory. His best effort was a Region VI win by more than 30 seconds over frosh Zouhair Talbi of Northwest Kansas. Merely third in that race Cloud County’s Malebana, who like Banguria is a four-time National Athlete of the Week.

Virtually untouchable against JUCO competition have been Gideon Cheplak of El Paso CC, James Kapel of Central Arizona, Dillan Haviland of Lansing (Mich.) CC and Geoffrey Bwalley of Monroe-New Rochelle (N.Y.).

Also look out for Iowa Central’s Awet Yohannes, who has won his last two races and is the only runner besides Banguria and Malebana to be named National Athlete of the Week.

NJCAA Division I — Women's Cross Country
This Week's National Top Five
Iowa Central CC
Central Arizona
South Plains (Texas)
Southern Idaho
Monroe-New Rochelle (N.Y.)
1
Iowa Central CC
2
Central Arizona
3
South Plains (Texas)
4
Southern Idaho
5
Monroe-New Rochelle (N.Y.)
Cross Country Polls & Rankings

Iowa Central CC is poised to write its name in the record book – again. The two-time defending national champions are on the verge of their second three-peat, attempting to match their 2011-13 run. Only Ricks (Idaho) CC, which ran off seven in a row from 1995-2001, has ever shown more dominance. A victory would also give the Tritons a total of eight – one more than Ricks (Idaho) CC won as an NJCAA DI member.

The National Coaches’ Poll – which has Iowa Central as a unanimous No. 1 for the fifth-straight time this year – reflects the dominance the Tritons have shown in competition, winning a 16th-straight Region XI title a week after a sound victory at the Jim Drews/Tori Neubauer Invitational over a pair of NCAA Division III ranked teams.

No one is ready to hand the trophy to Iowa Central just yet. Three other teams follow in the rankings – and none of them has lost to a JUCO team this year.

No. 2 Central Arizona is always competitive, having been runner-up six times since last winning in 2009. The Vaqueras won Region I with a 1-2-3 finish over two other nationally ranked teams. Three different runners have been their No. 1 this year. 

South Plains (Texas) comes in with the most top-quality JUCO competition after dispatching two other top-10 squads twice. Ranked No. 3 all but one week this year, the Texans won Region V over New Mexico JC and El Paso CC, each of whom has been in the top-5 at least once this year. They’re led by defending individual runner-up Gladys Jemaiyo.

Southern Idaho enters the national meet ranked No. 4. The Golden Eagles finished on the podium in each of the past two years with a third-place effort in 2018 and a fourth-place effort in 2018. Southern Idaho competes in a region with no other cross country programs, so this will be its first competition against JUCO talent.

Monroe-New Rochelle (N.Y.) rounds out the top-5 at No. 5. The Mustangs are in new territory among the nation’s elite, and their impressive season includes a top-5 finish in the Louisville Classic Blue race and a fifth-straight Region XV victory. The team has never finished in the top-10 at nationals before.

Three other schools have been among the top-5 this year, and each should be in the mix for a podium spot: No. 6 Cowley County (Kan.) CC won Region VI over four other nationally ranked teams, while No. 7 New Mexico JC and No. 8 El Paso CC have given No. 3 South Plains all they can handle, including at one meet where the teams were separated by just five points.

Individual Race Preview

This could be a thriller or a runaway.

The top-3 from last year return in Everlyn Kemboi (El Paso), Gladys Jemaiyo (South Plains), and Lilian Busienei (Iowa Central), but the top runner thus far looks to be freshman Flomena Asekol of New Mexico. She is undefeated against all competition in five races, and her winning margins have ranged from 12 to 44 seconds.

Winrose Chesang was 19th last year and started the year as Iowa Central’s No. 3 runner, but she is coming in hot after an 11-second win at Region XI over Faith Linga Chepengat of Iowa Western. Chesang was the double 5000/10,000 champ in the spring, so the pedigree is there.

Don’t forget about Sharon Chumo of Monroe-New Rochelle, either, as she has not lost to another JUCO runner all year. 

NJCAA Division I
Men's Cross Country
USTFCCCA National Coaches' Poll

2019 Week #5 - November 6th

RANK TEAM
CONFERENCE
CHANGE
1cloud-county-kan-ccCLOUD COUNTY (KAN.) CC
Region VI (1)
 ◀▶
(LW: 1)
2iowa-central-ccIOWA CENTRAL CC
Region XI (1)
 ◀▶
(LW: 2)
3el-paso-ccEL PASO CC
Region V (1)
 ◀▶
(LW: 3)
4central-arizonaCENTRAL ARIZONA
Region I (1)
 ◀▶
(LW: 4)
5southern-idahoSOUTHERN IDAHO
Region XVIII
 ◀▶
(LW: 5)
6iowa-western-ccIOWA WESTERN CC
Region XI (2)
 ▼1
(LW: 5)
7hutchinson-kan-ccHUTCHINSON (KAN.) CC
Region VI (2)
 ◀▶
(LW: 7)
8trinidad-state-colo-jcTRINIDAD STATE (COLO.) JC
Region IX (1)
 ◀▶
(LW: 8)
9allen-kan-ccALLEN (KAN.) CC
Region VI (3)
 ◀▶
(LW: 9)
10colby-kan-ccCOLBY (KAN.) CC
Region VI (4)
 ◀▶
(LW: 10)
11lansing-mich-ccLANSING (MICH.) CC
Region VII
 ◀▶
(LW: 11)
12north-iowa-area-ccNORTH IOWA AREA CC
Region XI (3)
 ◀▶
(LW: 12)
13mesa-ariz-ccMESA (ARIZ.) CC
Region I (2)
 ◀▶
(LW: 13)
14ranger-texasRANGER (TEXAS)
Region V (2)
 ◀▶
(LW: 14)
15new-mexico-jcNEW MEXICO JC
Region V (3)
 ◀▶
(LW: 15)
16vincennes-indVINCENNES (IND.)
Region XII (1)
 ▲1
(LW: 17)
17paradise-valley-ariz-ccPARADISE VALLEY (ARIZ.) CC
Region I (3)
 ▼1
(LW: 16)
18hawkeye-iowa-ccHAWKEYE (IOWA) CC
Region XI (4)
 ◀▶
(LW: 18)
19indian-hills-iowa-ccINDIAN HILLS (IOWA) CC
Region XI (5)
 ▲1
(LW: 20)
20monroe-new-rochelle-n-yMONROE-NEW ROCHELLE (N.Y.)
Region XV
 ▼1
(LW: 19)
21fort-scott-kan-ccFORT SCOTT (KAN.) CC
Region VI (5)
 ◀▶
(LW: 21)
22highland-kan-ccHIGHLAND (KAN.) CC
Region VI (9)
 ▲2
(LW: 24)
23wallace-state-ala-ccWALLACE STATE (ALA.) CC
Region XXII (1)
 NR
24southwestern-iowa-ccSOUTHWESTERN (IOWA) CC
Region XI (6)
 ◀▶
(LW: 24)
25butler-kan-ccBUTLER (KAN.) CC
Region VI (6)
 NR
NJCAA Division I
Women's Cross Country
USTFCCCA National Coaches' Poll

2019 Week #5 - November 6th

RANK TEAM
CONFERENCE
CHANGE
1iowa-central-ccIOWA CENTRAL CC
Region XI (1)
 ◀▶
(LW: 1)
2central-arizonaCENTRAL ARIZONA
Region I (1)
 ◀▶
(LW: 2)
3south-plains-texasSOUTH PLAINS (TEXAS)
Region V (1)
 ◀▶
(LW: 3)
4southern-idahoSOUTHERN IDAHO
Region XVIII
 ◀▶
(LW: 4)
5monroe-new-rochelle-n-yMONROE-NEW ROCHELLE (N.Y.)
Region XV
 ▼1
(LW: 4)
6cowley-kanCOWLEY (KAN.)
Region VI (1)
 ◀▶
(LW: 6)
7new-mexico-jcNEW MEXICO JC
Region V (2)
 ◀▶
(LW: 7)
8el-paso-ccEL PASO CC
Region V (3)
 ◀▶
(LW: 8)
9mesa-ariz-ccMESA (ARIZ.) CC
Region I (2)
 ◀▶
(LW: 9)
10iowa-western-ccIOWA WESTERN CC
Region XI (2)
 ◀▶
(LW: 10)
11cuyahoga-ohio-ccCUYAHOGA (OHIO) CC
Region VII
 ◀▶
(LW: 11)
12lansing-mich-ccLANSING (MICH.) CC
Region VII
 ◀▶
(LW: 12)
13paradise-valley-ariz-ccPARADISE VALLEY (ARIZ.) CC
Region I (3)
 ◀▶
(LW: 13)
14butler-kan-ccBUTLER (KAN.) CC
Region VI (2)
 ▲1
(LW: 15)
15north-iowa-area-ccNORTH IOWA AREA CC
Region XI (3)
 ▼1
(LW: 14)
16muskegon-mich-ccMUSKEGON (MICH.) CC
Region VII
 ◀▶
(LW: 16)
17hutchinson-kan-ccHUTCHINSON (KAN.) CC
Region VI (4)
 ▲1
(LW: 18)
18pasco-hernando-flaPASCO-HERNANDO (FLA.)
Region VIII
 ▼1
(LW: 17)
19pratt-kan-ccPRATT (KAN.) CC
Region VI (3)
 NR
20ranger-texasRANGER (TEXAS)
Region V (4)
 ▼1
(LW: 19)
21grand-rapids-mich-ccGRAND RAPIDS (MICH.) CC
Region XII
 ▼1
(LW: 20)
22central-wyomingCENTRAL WYOMING
Region IX (1)
 ▼1
(LW: 21)
23colby-kan-ccCOLBY (KAN.) CC
Region VI (5)
 ▼1
(LW: 22)
24daytona-stateDAYTONA STATE
Region VIII
 ▲1
(LW: 25)
25vincennes-indVINCENNES (IND.)
Region XII (1)
 ▼2
(LW: 23)

USTFCCCA NJCAA Division I Cross Country

2019 Rankings & Polls Calendar
Weeks National Coaches' Poll KEY DATES
Week 1Wed 9/18
Week 2Wed 10/2
Week 3Wed 10/16
Week 4Wed 10/30
Week 5Wed 11/6Nov. 9: NJCAA DI National Champs (Albuquerque, N.M.)
FINAL ResultsSat 11/9
MEN | WOMEN
Week-by-Week Ranking Charts

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