MEET RECAP: 2020 NJCAA Indoor T&F Championships

Champions were crowned Saturday in the 2020 NJCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships held in Lynchburg, Va.

Iowa Central CC successfully defended its men title and the New Mexico JC women returned to the top with its most dominating win yet. 

2020 NJCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships – Final Standings

Men’s Teams
Women’s Teams
Iowa Central CC
New Mexico JC
Barton CC
Iowa Central CC
South Plains
South Plains
New Mexico JC
Barton CC
Cloud County CC
Cloud County CC

Men’s Recap

Iowa Central CC won its fourth title in five years, and their 18½-point margin is the meet’s largest since the Tritons’ last won 2017. Historians might argue their domination dates back to 2011, as ICCC can now claim seven of the last 10 national titles. This year’s point total of 118 is their most since 2017.

The intense team competition included a race for second that featured a program which hadn’t score in this meet since 1988. Barton (Kan.) CC –  which had the most event winners with five – finished as runner-up for an impressive/agonizing third year in a row, though its 99½-point total this year is its highest of the three. South Plains (Texas), which won a 2-point squeaker over Barton in 2018, edged ahead of New Mexico JC by half a point. NMJC reinstituted it men’s program this year after a layoff of nearly three decades; the Thunderbirds won three events, the most behind Barton.

Individual competition saw three meet records, two in hotly contested distance races. The first came early on Friday. Colby CC’s Wesley Banguria – who won last fall’s cross country title by over a minute – churned the 5000 meet record down to 13:56.51, blasting the old standard by over 12 seconds as he won by 15 seconds. That was after (by an hour so) he anchored his DMR team to a near-victory in the distance medley relay, finishing a second-plus in third behind Iowa Central.

Friday night was almost over when Santino Kenyi of Cloud County (Kan.) CC edged Banguria with the most dramatic 3000 in meet history – a .04 victory as both finished with two of the top three in championships annals. Kenyi would be part of more fireworks on Saturday.

Andrew Kibet of Hutchinson (Kan.) CC – winner of the cross country title in 2018 – roared back to life on Saturday in the middle distances, winning twice. He started off with a meet record 4:04.51 in the mile to turn back both Kenyi and Banguria. Kibet returned to win the 1000 by over three seconds in 2:25.90, fourth fastest in championships history.

South Plains’ Moitalel Mpoke, who last month recorded the world’s fastest 600-yard time on a legal-sized track (1:06.93), won two events – the 600 in 1:16.93 by over a second before the 800 about an hour later. He has yet to lose this year at distances that span from the 400 to 1000.

The field events had a totally different script, as some won easily and others battled longer than anticipated.

In the pole vault, Matteo Capello of Vincennes (Ind.) expectedly broke the meet record, now up to 17-4½ (5.30m). Capello three times rose the JUCO record earlier this year, the latest at 17-5¾ (5.33m). Shakwon Coke of Barton won the long jump (25-6¼/7/78m) on Friday and then came back the next day to take the triple jump at 53-1½ (16.19m), the latter over defending champ Lloyd McCurdy of Monroe-New Rochelle (N.Y.).

The high jump had a pair dueling for a while. Defending champ Corvell Todd of Hinds was even with Romaine Beckford of South Plains on record through 7-½ (2.15m). Thus began an incredible jumpoff that lasted six rounds and saw both again jump 7-½, but only Todd could do it for a third time to gain the win.

Andrei Romanov of New Mexico JC seemed a lock for Saturday’s weight throw final. He had raised the JUCO record during the season to 70-7 (21.51m) – more than two feet over the previous best. Yet in round 6 he was behind Phillipe Barton of Barton CC, who led with a round-one 68-6½ (20.89m), equal to the best in championship history. In the final round Romanov captured victory, a meet-record 70-4¼ (21.44m).

Women’s Recap

New Mexico JC totaled 160 points and returned to the top of the podium with a dominating 45-point victory, easily the largest of its four titles. The Thunderbirds collected nine event winners, more than twice as many as any other team and now have won this meet in three of the last four years.

The battle for runner-up was much closer. Iowa Central CC scored 115 points, its most since 2017 when they were also second to NMJC (then by just five points). South Plains (Texas) overtook defending champs Barton (Kan.) CC in the final event to claim third by three points, 98 to 95. Barton had the second-most event winners with four.

Winning the most (men or women) was Flomena Asekol of NMJC with four victories, three in individual events on the final day after anchoring the distance medley relay team to a 19-second win to kick off Friday’s track action. In less than two hours on Saturday, Asekol added three more wins – the mile (4:52.69), 800 (2:12.87) and 1000 (2:56.43). All three victories were in top-10 all-time marks in championships history – the mile No. 2 – and two were over defending champs [mile over South Plains’ Dorcus Ewoi and 800 over Joanna Archer of Monroe-New Rochelle (N.Y.)].

Three athletes won two individual events. Barton’s Annia Ashley nearly got three – she won the long jump on Friday (19-7/5.97m), then came back Saturday to win the high jump (5-7¼/1.71m) before taking second in the triple jump to South Plain’s Onaara Obamuwagun, who claimed the title at 42-½ (12.82m) over Ashley’s 40-11 (12.47m).

Faith Chepengat of Iowa Western CC followed up her dominating cross country title in the fall by winning the two longest events – the 3000 and 5000, both on Friday with the latter event in the No. 2 time in championships history (16:59.14) and defeating South Plains’ Gladys Jemaiyo, who earlier this year broke the JUCO record.

Iowa Central’s Lea Grady won both throwing events impressively. On Friday she was just a centimeter off her all-time top-10 shot put best at 51-8½ (15.76m) and followed that up Saturday morning with a weight throw PR 64-½ (19.52m) to move to No. 4 all-time.

Demisha Roswell of NMJC likely had the best single performance as she scared the JUCO record in the 60 hurdles at 8.17, the second-fastest in championships and JUCO history. The record of 8.15 for both was set in 2008.