Recap: 2021 NJCAA Cross Country Championships

Champions were crowned at the NJCAA Cross Country Championships!

Six national championship races were slated for Saturday, as the NJCAA hosted men’s and women’s champions across its three divisions. Division I and II were held at Pole Green Park near Richmond, Virginia, while Division III descended on Council Farms in Milledgeville, Georgia, which is about an hour southeast of Atlanta. The races were the first time an NJCAA cross country championship has been held in either state.

From The USTFCCCA InfoZoneMeets & Results | USTFCCCA Scoreboard

Keep reading below to find out what happened in each of the meets!

You better believe it was an exciting day of racing at the NJCAA ranks.

NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships

Men’s Team
Women’s Team
No. 1 Iowa Central CC
No. 3 CSI
No. 3 Iowa Western CC
No. 4 Cloud County (Kan.) CC
No. 2 Colby (Kan.) CC
No. 6 El Paso (Texas) CC
No. 8 Trinidad State (Colo.) JC
No. 9 New Mexico JC
No. 5 Northwest Kansas Tech
No. 2 Iowa Western CC

Men’s 8k Championship

Iowa Central CC followed up the best 1-2 punch with the best third, fourth and fifth runners to score a surprisingly easy victory and repeat as national team champions – the first back-to-back winners since they did it themselves from 2014-15. Iowa Central CC scored 66 points, well ahead of rival No. 3 Iowa Western CC’s 126 as the Reivers earned the program’s highest-ever finish as runner-up. No. 2 Colby (Kan.) CC finished third with 137 points, followed by No. 8 Trinidad State (Colo.) JC with 151 and No. 5 Northwest Kansas Tech with 173.

The individual race saw a wild flurry to the finish, with Vincent Nchogu of Northwest Kansas Tech winning in 24:04.8 ahead of Iowa Central’s Aspel Kiprob (24:07.4) as both were ahead of defending champ Kelvin Bungei of Iowa Central (24:11.4). Nicholas Kiprotich of Iowa Western (24:12.3) and Dennis Mutai of Garden City (Kan.) CC (24:17.1) completed the top-5.

Women’s 5k Championship

The College of Southern Idaho won their first national cross country title in dominant fashion, scoring 60 points to outdistance runner-up Cloud County (Kan.) CC by 70 points. The Golden Eagles entered the meet ranked No. 3 after earlier being perched at No. 1, but the CSI soared to the occasion as the only team with two runners in the top-10 as Audrey Camp’s fifth place was followed by Natalya Babcock’s seventh. Third place went to No. 6 El Paso (Texas) CC with 142 points, just ahead of No. 9 New Mexico JC (145) and No. 2 Iowa Western CC (149).

Faith Nyathi of El Paso (Texas) CC raced away to the individual title in 17:08.8, with Mercy Biwott of Iowa Western CC runner-up in 17:43.0. Aaliyah Moore of Monroe-New Rochelle (N.Y.) was third in 18:13.0, ahead of Sharon Jesang of Trinidad State (Colo.) JC (18:21.8) and Audrey Camp of College of Southern Idaho (18:28.1).

NJCAA Division II Cross Country Championships

Men’s Team
Women’s Team
No. 1 Cowley (Kan.)
No. 1 Lansing (Mich.) CC
No. 2 Daytona State (Fla.)
No. 2 Heartland (Ill.) CC
No. 5 Heartland (Ill.) CC
No. 3 Mesa (Ariz.) CC
No. 3 Mesa (Ariz.) CC
No. 5 Cowley (Kan.)
No. 4 Lansing (Mich.) CC
No. 4 Wallace State (Ala.)

Men’s 8k Championship

No. 1 Cowley (Kan.) won the men’s national cross country title for the first time since taking the Division I crown in 2010. The Tigers, who scored 82 points, were led up front by a duo that improved from 2-3 last year to 1-2 this year in Adrian Diaz-Lopez and Amos Pkiach. No. 2 Daytona State (Fla.) registered a program-high in finishing second with 102 points. No. 5 Heartland (Ill.) CC was third with 115 points, ahead of No. 3 Mesa (Ariz.) CC (130) and No. 4 Lansing (Mich.) CC (135) in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Diaz-Lopez and Pkiach started the Cowley celebration, going 1-2 in 24:52.1 and 24:55.3, respectively. Defending national champion Melvin Kipkemboi of North Iowa Area CC was third in 25:04.3, while Calton Kibet of Carl Sandburg (Ill.) was fourth in 25:16.8 and Andy Martinez of Daytona State (Fla.) finished fifth in 25:29.6.

Women’s 5k Championship

No. 1 Lansing (Mich.) CC topped the podium for the first time since 2016, outpointing No. 2 Heartland (Ill.) CC, 85-103. Lansing’s strong top-3, with the race’s only pair of top-10 finishers and three in the top-20, proved to be the difference. When the Stars last won a harrier title, it was as the back-end of a repeat while competing in Division I. No. 3 Mesa (Ariz.) CC was third with 116 points, while No. 5 Cowley (Kan.) was fourth (141) and No. 4 Wallace State (Ala.) CC was fifth (154).

Sarah Bertry of North Iowa Area CC won the individual title in 18:21.1, improving on her runner-up finish last year. Kate Brockman of Mesa (Ariz.) CC, who finished in 18:37.3, is this year’s runner-up. Emma Hoins of Hawkeye (Iowa) CC was third (18:43.9) with Elka Billings of Allen (Kan.) CC (18:47.7) and Haley Ellis of Lansing (Mich.) CC (18:57.2) completing the top-5.

NJCAA Division III Cross Country Championships

Men’s Team
Women’s Team
No. 3 Joliet (Ill.) JC
No. 2 Oxford (Ga.)
No. 1 Mineral Area (Mo.)
No. 1 Joliet (Ill.) JC
No. 2 DuPage (Ill.)
No. 3 DuPage (Ill.)
No. 4 SUNY Broome
No. 8 Mineral Area (Mo.)
No. 12 Bergen (N.J.) CC
No. 5 Harper (Ill.)

Men’s 8k Championship

Joliet (Ill.) JC was just No. 3 in the pre-championship rankings but came together to win the team crown over No. 1 Mineral Area (Mo.) CC, the two-time reigning champion, 91-97. It’s the first national cross country title for the Wolves, the only squad with four top-25 finishers. No. 2 College of DuPage (Ill.) edged No. 4 SUNY Broome CC, 110-112, for the third and fourth positions, while Bergen (N.J.) CC finished fifth with 172 points.

Hunter Phillips of Joliet (Ill.) JC won the individual crown (another first for the Wolves), as his 25:39.38 was more than 38 seconds ahead of Logan VanBuren of Clinton (N.Y.) CC, who finished in 26:17.68. Jonah McHaffie of St. Charles (Mo.) CC (26:29.53), Shazim Permaul of Hudson Valley (N.Y.) CC (26:33.36) and Jacob Arnold of Mineral Area (Mo.) CC (26:42.52) completed the top-5.

Women’s 5k Championship

No. 2 Oxford (Ga.) won its first national cross country team title, scoring 40 points to beat No. 1 and reigning national champion Joliet (Ill.) JC, which totaled 57 points. It was a welcome return to the podium for Oxford, runner-up in 2017 and 2018. The finish saw a tight battle through each team’s top-3 runners, but the Eagles put their No. 4 and No. 5 ahead of Joliet’s fourth runner to seal the victory. No. 3 College of DuPage (Ill.) was third with 93 points ahead of No. 8 Mineral Area (Mo.) CC (131) and No. 5 Harper (Ill.) (143).

Julia Danko of Oxford (Ga.) won the individual title in 19:55.1 over defending champion Tiffany Lehman of Joliet (Ill.) JC, who finished in 20:03.6. Leah Lloyd of Finger Lakes (N.Y.) was third in 20:14.5, followed by Fiona Metzo of Harper (Ill.) in 20:17.6 and Syrena Feustel of Joliet in 20:29.5.