Meet Recap: 2020 NJCAA DI Cross Country Championships

Champions were crowned on Saturday at the 2020 NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Iowa Central CC swept the men’s titles as individual champion Kelvin Bungei led the host to its first team title since 2017. Ranger College came out of nowhere to win the women’s team title, while Faith Linga of Iowa Western CC made history as an individual.

Keep reading below to find out what happened on a blustery day.

2020 NJCAA DI CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS – FINAL STANDINGS

Men’s Teams
Points
 
Women’s Teams
Points
No. 1 Iowa Central CC
65
 
No. 8 Ranger College
75
No. 4 Southern Idaho
91
 
No. 2 Cloud County CC
76
No. 2 Iowa Western CC
95
 
No. 5 Southern Idaho
104
No. 3 Cloud County CC
122
 
No. 3 Colby CC
122
No. 5 Hutchinson CC
134
 
No. 6 Dodge City CC
172

Men’s Race

No. 1 Iowa Central CC defended home turf in a big way.

The top-ranked Tritons, who hosted the meet on Saturday, scored a commanding victory in the men’s race — beating No. 4 Southern Idaho by 26 points, 65-91 — to win its first team title since 2017.

Kelvin Bungei gave Iowa Central CC the ultimate low stick when he earned the program’s first individual title in eight years. Bungei crossed the finish line in 24:57.38, 13 seconds clear of individual runner-up Yonas Mogos of Iowa Western CC.

The Tritons had to wait a little while longer for their next scorers as athletes from seven other programs finished before them, including two each from No. 2 Iowa Western CC and No. 3 Cloud County CC. But once Iowa Central CC broke the seal, nothing could slow it down as Pur Biel and Hunter Klimek came through in 12th and 13th place, respectively, with Noah Friske not too far behind them in 17th. Once Demetrius Kaquatosh capped the scoring at 24th place, the celebration could start for the Tritons.

Southern Idaho fought to hold off Iowa Western CC to earn runner-up honors in the team standings. The Golden Eagles and the Reivers were second and third throughout the proceedings and the former owned a 21-point lead at the final split (84-105). That’s when Iowa Western CC charged back and whittled that down to four points at the finish.

No. 3 Cloud County CC finished a distant fourth, despite putting two runners in the top-10 (Habtamu Geta was third; Awet Beraki was sixth). No. 5 Hutchinson CC, led by top-5 finisher Teagan Flanagan, finished in line with their pre-meet rank at fifth.

Women’s Race

Raise your hand if you had Faith Linga winning the individual title.

Keep your hand raised if you thought Ranger College would win the team title.

There were considerably fewer hands up to the second question.

A thrilling duel between the eighth-ranked Rangers and second-ranked T-Birds of Cloud County CC came down to the wire as one point decided the team champion on Saturday. When the dust settled, Ranger College captured its first team title in program history with a 75-76 victory.

Early on it looked like the T-Birds would fly away with the team title as they owned a 66-point lead over the Rangers at the 1 mile split. That advantage dwindled down to 14 points at the 2 mile and then just 10 points at the 2.25 mile split. By the time team scores registered at the 2.75 mile split, Ranger College swung into the lead by one point.

Nothing changed down the homestretch as the Rangers held off the T-Birds. Ranger College ended up scoring runners 8-12-13-20-22 with Cloud County CC at 2-14-15-17-28. The heroes for the Rangers were Aylin Huerta (20th) and Kaylyn De la Rosa (22nd), who both finished within two seconds of each other. Patricia Koma led the T-Birds with that individual runner-up finish.

No. 5 Southern Idaho took third with 104 points, followed by third-ranked Colby CC (122) and sixth-ranked Dodge City CC (172).

Now, going back to where we started this recap with Linga.

The Iowa Western CC sophomore won by nearly 36 seconds in 18:10.90 and became just the third woman in NJCAA DI history to win back-to-back cross country titles. Linga joined Adeh Mwamba of South Plains College in 2002 to 2003 and Leanne Pompeani of Iowa Central CC in 2015 and 2016.