EL DORADO, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College women's track and field team closed out the Region VI/KJCCC Outdoor Track and Field Championships in style Saturday, overtaking Cowley College in the final race of the day to finish as the Region VI runner-up.
Trailing by a point entering the 4X400-meter relay, the quartet of Chanice Forbes, Kenisha Stubbs, and emergency alternates Jessica Williams and Tanya Harcum, earned a fourth-place finish with a 3:59.30, beating Cowley College by the necessary two places to move into second.
"We were a little beat up throughout the day. 'Mylo' (Myflore Methelus) was having a little bit of a hamstring strain after the 100-meter finals, and Shackera Samuels is another regular on our 4X400 that couldn't run," said Cloud County head women's coach, Ted Schmitz. "We ended up putting on Jessica, in her first race this season, and Tanya. We knew we were down by one point. There was a lot on the line and the girls stepped up and ran a fantastic time for having a couple alternates on the team."
It was an exciting end to a weekend that saw a number of standout performances for the T-Birds, highlighted by the work of freshman jumper Grace Chinonyelum.
The two-time indoor national champion earned Female High Point Athlete of the Meet after winning the long jump (18'9), high jump (5'7) and triple jump (42'9) events over the weekend, giving her five Region VI/KJCCC titles to her credit.
Chinonyelum is currently ranked No. 1 in the country among NJCAA athletes in the high jump and triple jump.
"Just unbelievable performances again by her," Schmitz said of Chinonyelum. "She has been very consistent all year. Not only did she get the three region championships, but she had three high-level performances in all three of them. She was well deserving and I'm very proud of her."
Cloud County added event wins in the javelin from sophomore Shanee Angol with a throw of 130'3, and from Williams in the pole vault.
The Concordia native, who also added a fifth-place finish in the high jump Saturday (5'0.2), won the pole vault after clearing the 12-foot mark. Fellow freshman Sophie Jebose would take home fourth overall (10'5).
Freshman Jacqueline Pokuaah earned a pair of second-place finishes, taking runner-up in the 100-meter hurdle finals (14.03) and long jump (18'7).
Sophomore hurdles Kenisha Stubbs placed third in the 400-meter hurdles (1:04.87), and Forbes earned fifth-place in the 400-meter dash (57.28).
The Missouri State signee also helped the Cloud County 4X100-meter relay team, consisting of Samuels, Methelus, and Pokuaah to a second-place finish (47.12).
In addition to top finishes, the T-Birds also saw a few new national qualifiers as freshman Semaj McGhee punched her ticket to nationals by reaching 5'5.75 in the heptathlon high jump, qualifying her for the open high jump in two weeks.
McGhee placed fourth overall in the heptathlon with 3,733 points, while freshman Maryse Mbenoun continued her impressive outdoor season by taking third overall with 4,062 points.
Mbenoun, now currently ranked sixth nationally in the multis, capped her weekend by helping the 4X800-meter relay team of Samuels, Harcum and sophomore Janne Hamisi to a fourth-place finish in a national qualifying time of 9:59.96.
"What a year she's had since the indoor season. Maryse has had some remarkable performances," Schmitz said. "She was a new person on our 4X800-meter relay team. We hadn't ran the event all year, but decided we wanted to enter that and ran very well to get a national qualifying mark."
Up next for the T-Birds will be the NJCAA National Outdoor Track and Field Championships, set for May 16-18 in Hobbs, New Mexico.
Following this week's performances, Schmitz said he is excited about the team can accomplish in the final meet of the season.
"This was an exciting meet and we had a lot of people performing at their best, which is great to see when you're in the regional championship," Schmitz said. "I'm very pleased and excited about the second-place finish. We'll take a few days off and get focused, get some good training in and feel good about where we're at heading into the national meet."