FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas — The Cloud County Community College track and field teams opened the outdoor season on Saturday, breaking out the umbrellas and toughing out a cold, rain-soaked Saturday in Fayetteville at the Arkansas Spring Invitational.
Despite the less than ideal weather conditions, both the Cloud County men and women saw a number of athletes put up national qualifying marks, highlighted by event wins by freshman Dennis Kiptoo, sophomore Kyle Alcine and freshman Dais Malebana as all three picked up event wins Saturday.
Kiptoo was one of three Cloud County athletes on the podium in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase as he won the event in a time of 9 minutes, 26.82 seconds, while freshman Saba Khvichava was close behind in second (9:28.67) and sophomore Thom Reynders glided in fourth at 9:53.93).
All three earned national qualifying marks in the event, while freshman distance runner Kwanele Mthembu also claimed a top-10 finish, placing ninth in a time of 10:15.03.
Malebana won the men's 1,500-meter run in his Cloud County debut, crossing the finish line in 4:03.72, while Alcine picked up his event win in the men's high jump as the only jumper to clear 6-feet, 9-inches. Coffeyville's Chris Banks was in second at 6'7.
In addition to the wins, the T-Birds had four runner-up finishes on the afternoon, with the Cloud County women's 4X100-meter relay team of Jacqueline Pokuaah, Shackera Samuels, Myflore Methelus and Chanice Forbes finishing second with a national qualifying time of 48.42 seconds.
Forbes added to her day individually in the women's 200-meter dash, finishing second in her heat with a time of 25.68 and 10th overall.
Freshman jumper Semaj McGhee finished in a tie for second in the women's high jump with Sophia Weldon out of Southern Methodist University with a jump of 5'3.
Bavinga placed second in the men's triple jump (48'5.5), while Hoover podiumed in the men's javelin with a throw of 168'5, joined in the top-10 by sophomore Tanner Brown (8th, 148-6).
The T-Birds would add a top-5 finish in the women's javelin event as sophomore Shanee Angol, the NJCAA national runner-up in the event as a freshman, opened her 2019 season with a throw of 128'10.
Sophomore thrower Takyra Hilton added the 11th top-5 finish on the day for the T-Birds in the women's shot put with a national qualifying mark of 40'9.5.
Rounding out the top finishers on Saturday for the T-Birds were freshman Maryse Mbenoun (6th, 2:29.99) and sophomore Janne Hamisi (2:33.22) in the women's 800-meter run; freshman pole vaulter Jessica Williams in 8th place (11'11.75); Kenisha Stubbs (9th, 1;07.93) and Samuels (10th, 1:07.93) in the women's 400-meter hurdles; and freshman hurdler Yuben Goncalves, who won his heat and finished 10th in the men's 400-meter hurdles (56.77).
Up next for the T-Birds will be the three-day Texas Relays set for Thursday through Saturday of next week in Austin, Texas.