From GRCC athletics:
GRCC’s men and women’s cross country teams competed in the NJCAA Division I National Championships on Nov. 9 at the University of New Mexico Golf Course in Albuquerque.
For the women, it was their first time in program history racing as a team, and they finished in 23rd place out of 38 teams. The Raider men had three runners compete.
In the women’s 5K race, the 20th-ranked Raiders were led by All-Region and All-Freshmen star Kiah Becker, who finished in 58th place out of 290 runners — the second-highest among MCCAA runners as well as the second-best National finish in the history of the women’s team. She also ran her best time ever as a Raider: 20:18, which ranks 13th-best in program history since 2014.
All-Region runner Diana Candela (21:11) was the eighth finisher among MCCAA runners with a 107th place. She had the fifth-best National finish in Raider history. Carolanne Merlington was the 11th MCCAA finisher (21:37) and 135th overall. Allison Hoop (22:16) was 16th among MCCAA competitors and 167th overall. Mikayla Eshbach stepped up huge when the team needed her, running her second-fastest time of the year — 23:19 — and finishing fifth on the team for the first time of the year.
Faith Chepengat (16:49) of Iowa Western Community College outlasted second place by 13 seconds winning the women’s national championship. Iowa Central Community College, which had three runners in the top 10, blew away the competition by 47 points, taking home the team title with 60 points.
In the men’s race, sophomore William Westveer ran his best race as a Raider with 27:17, finishing in 120th place. He was the sixth-best among all MCCAA runners and had the 7th-best national finish for GRCC. Freshmen Matthew Converse and Jack Kehoe both finished with respectable times of 28:37 and 29:04. All three earned All-Region honors after fantastic seasons, with Converse also being named to the All-Freshman team.
Wesley Banguria of Colby Community College took home the men’s crown with an impressive 22:55. He beat second-place Zouhair Talbi by a remarkable one minute and three seconds. Cloud County Community College in Kansas took home the team championship, defeating second-place El Paso Community College 89-110.