Meet Recap: 2022 NJCAA DI/DII Cross Country Championships

Champions were crowned on Saturday at the 2022 NJCAA DI/DII Cross Country Championships!

The meet was held at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Florida.

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Repeats dominated women’s action, but new names were aplenty on the men’s side as the NJCAA Championships didn’t disappoint.

2022 NJCAA DI Cross Country Championships – Final Results

Men’s Team
Score
Women’s Team
Score
No. 1 Colby (Kan.) CC
38
No. 1 Southern Idaho
61
No. 2 Iowa Central CC
115
No. 2 New Mexico JC
79
No. 5 Northwest Kansas Tech
126
No. 7 Salt Lake (Utah) CC
95
No. 3 El Paso (Texas) CC
127
No. 3 Hutchinson (Kan.) CC
177
No. 4 New Mexico JC
146
No. 5 Iowa Central CC
199

Men’s 8k Race

The individual battle had the only tension of the race, and this one lasted wire to wire.

In the end it was Sanele Masondo of Colby (Kan.) CC finishing just 0.4 seconds ahead of Rodgers Rotich of rival Butler (Kan.) CC. Masondo – 14th here last year – won in 24:07.2 over the freshman Rotich. Masondo’s victory was the first individual title for Colby since Wesley Banguria – later known as Wesley Kiptoo – memorably won by over a minute in 2019.

Masondo’s Colby teammates were also sharp as third-place finisher Ricardo Barbosa was one of four Trojans in the top-10. Colby scored an impressive 38 points – lowest in this meet since 1998 – in winning its first-ever title. Barbosa was Colby’s No. 1 runner last year, when he was sixth.

Teamwise, it was close after Colby. No. 2 Iowa Central CC – seeking a third-straight title – earned the runner-up position with 115. The Tritons have been first or second in nine of the past 10 years. No. 5 Northwest Kansas Tech was third with 126, just a single digit ahead of No. 3 El Paso (Texas) CC with 127. It was the Mavericks’ best-ever finish. Rounding out the top-5 was No. 4 New Mexico JC with 146 points.

Women’s 5k Race

College of Southern Idaho made it look easy at the finish, but the Golden Eagles’ repeat as national champions was actually much closer than last year.

Ranked No. 1 all year, CSI found No. 2 New Mexico JC bolting to an early lead at the first two checkpoints. NMJC’s narrow 75-76 lead at 2800 meters turned into a CSI 69-75 margin by 4k. The final kilometer saw the Golden Eagles extend the winning margin to 18 points, scoring 61 points to the T-Birds’ 79. That 18-point victory margin for CSI was tighter than last year’s 68-point romp. CSI had three top-10 scorers, led by Natalya Babcock, who was fifth overall in 18:26.6 for 5k.

NMJC’s runner-up finish matched it best ever, which came in 2019. First-year program Salt Lake (Utah) CC surprised many with a third-place finish as the Bruins came in ranked No. 7 in the latest National Coaches’ Poll. Salt Lake tallied 95 points as No. 3 Hutchinson (Kan.) CC (177) and No. 5 Iowa Central CC (199) rounded out the top-5.

Another repeat from last year was the individual 1-2 finish as Faith Nyathi of El Paso made a strong move just before 4k to win in 17:47.8 as Iowa Western CC’s Mercy Biwott (18:05.8) was runner-up again. The 18.1-second margin was closer than last year’s difference of 34.2 seconds between the two.

2022 NJCAA DII Cross Country Championships – Final Results

Men’s Team
Score
Women’s Team
Score
No. 1 Paradise Valley (Ariz.) CC
68
No. 1 Lansing (Mich.) CC
57
No. 4 Heartland (Ill.) CC
88
No. 2 Mesa (Ariz.) CC
58
No. 3 Lansing (Mich.) CC
94
No. 3 Heartland (Ill.) CC
120
No. 2 Mesa (Ariz.) CC
116
No. 5 Coconino (Ariz.) CC
124
No. 8 NorthWest Arkansas CC
148
No. 7 Wallace State (Ala.) CC
124

Men’s 8k Race

It was a wait of 11 years – and even a different division – for Paradise Valley (Ariz.) CC to be honored as national champions.

The No. 1 Pumas won convincingly with 68 points as No. 4 Heartland (Ill.) CC was runner-up with 88 points. Paradise Valley bided its time well, not showing up in the top-10 team standings until the 3k split, when they were in ninth place. They upgraded to seventh at 4k, fifth at 5k and third at 6k. By 7k PV was tied with No. 3 Lansing (Mich.) CC at 91 points. The Pumas continued to improve, finishing with their 20-point margin over Heartland.

Gilbert Olivas led PVCC with a fourth-place finish in 25:43.6 over 8k. Olivas was a picture of improvement throughout the race, not entering the top-10 until 6k split, and then only in eighth place. The Pumas ended up with three top-10 finishers and four in the top-11.

Lansing finished in third place with 94 points. It was the Stars’ best finish in the DII nationals and best in any NJCAA meet since winning the DI meet in 2007. Fourth place went to No. 2 Mesa (Ariz.) CC for the second year in a row as the Thunderbirds scored 116. In fifth was No. 8 NorthWest Arkansas CC (148), ginving the Eagles its best-ever finish in the nationals.

Individually, Yotuel Garcia of Mesa held off a fast-finishing Kevin Baranoski of CCBC Essex (Md.). Garcia led by 6.8 seconds at 7k, but Baranoski closed the gap significantly in the last steps as Garcia (25:25.4) won by 2.2 seconds over Baranoski (25:27.5).

Women’s 5k Race

No. 1 and No. 2 made it just about as close as possible.

Top-ranked Lansing (Mich.) CC repeated as national champions, but just by one point ahead of No. 2 Mesa (Ariz.) CC as the score was 57-58. Both squads had its top-5 runners in the top-20 scoring positions (Lansing also its No. 6 among that group). The Stars’ top runner was Jana Stiffler, who was sixth overall in 19:35.1, while the Thunderbirds were led by overall runner-up Anna Harmon (18:44.3).

Third place went to last year’s runner-up, No. 3 Heartland (Ill.) CC with 120 points, just ahead of fourth and fifth places that needed a tiebreaker between No. 5 Coconino (Ariz.) CC and No. 7 Wallace State (Ala.) CC. Wallace State matched its best-ever finish in this meet from last year, while Coconino registered its first-known finish here.

Individually, freshman Hayley Burns of Coconino ran away to a 21.5-second victory, clocking 18:22.8 for 5k as Anna Harmon of Mesa was second in 18:44.3.