CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College track and field teams have loaded the bus and are en route to Hobbs, New Mexico, home to New Mexico Junior College and this year's site for the NJCAA National Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Cloud County will have 33 student-athletes, 21 members of the No. 3 ranked Cloud County men's team and 12 qualifiers from the No. 6 ranked women's team, making the trip south.
Each T-Birds' team is coming off of strong performances at the Region VI/KJCCC Outdoor Championships, held May 2-4 in El Dorado. The Cloud County men completed their sweep of the Region VI/KJCCC Championships for the 2018-19 school year, backing up their indoor title with an outdoor championship, while the women's team edged Cowley College, 138 points to 137 points, to finish second overall.
On the men's side, the T-Birds will be looking for a repeat performance from their middle distance and distance runners to help the team make a run at another national trophy.
Cloud County has three freshmen seeded in the top 10 in the men's 1,500-meter run with Dais Malebana (3:48.40), Santino Kenyi (3:49.10) and Dennis Kiptoo (3:52.66) positioned third, fourth and seventh heading into the weekend, respectively.
The T-Birds are also well positioned in the 10,000-meter and 5,000-meter runs as Kiptoo is the No. 3 seed in the 10,000-meter (30:24.52), just ahead of fellow freshman Kwanele Mthembu in fourth (30:40.26).
Kenyi, Kiptoo and Methembu are all top-10 seeds and in the mix to win the 5,000-meter as well, entering the weekend seeded fifth, sixth and eighth, respectively.
Sophomore pole vaulter Louis Humbert, the indoor national champion with a vault of 15'7, will be in the hunt for the outdoor title, entering as the No. 2 seed (15'7.25).
Freshman Saba Khvichava, the No. 3 seed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9:21.14), sophomore Lesley Mahlakoane as the sixth-seed in the 400-meter dash (46.95), and sophomore Tanner Brown as the No, 4 seed in the men's decathlon are also a few of the many T-Birds who could threaten national champions over the three-day meet.
The men's 4X800-meter relay team of Kenyi, Khvichava, Malebana and Gabriel Chinya could always walk away with some hardware as they enter as the No. 3 seed in the country with a composite time of 7:35.55.
Expected to lead the way for the Cloud County women's team this week is freshman jumper Grace Chinonyelum, who is already a two-time national champion after winning the triple jump and high jump during the indoor season.
Chinonyelum is favored to win each of those events in the outdoor season, entering the weekend as the No. 1 seed in the triple jump (43'10) and in the high jump (5'9.25), just ahead of fellow freshman teammates Semaj McGhee (5'5.75) at No. 5 and Jessica Williams (5'5) as the No. 8 seed.
Williams will take aim at a national title in the women's pole vault event as the Concordia native currently owns the second-best national qualifying mark with a jump of 12'1.5 she set back on April 5 at the Friends University Spring Open.
Sophomore javelin thrower Shanee Angol, last year's national runner up in the event, is positioned as the No. 2 seed heading into the event with a qualifying mark of 133'11.
Freshman jumper Jacqueline Pokuaah will be another T-Bird with national championship aspirations as she heads into the meet seeded fourth in the long jump (20'1) and fifth in the 100-meter hurdles (14.03).
The event page for the 2019 NJCAA National Outdoor Track and Field Championships, with links to the heat sheets, meet schedule and live results can be accessed here: https://www.nmjc.edu/athletic/track_2019/index.aspx#
Cloud County national outdoor qualifiers
Maryse Mbenoun: Heptathlon
Shanee Angol: Javelin
Grace Chinonyelum: High jump, long jump and triple jump
Chanice Forbes: 400-meter run, 4X400 and 4X100
Tanya Harcum: 400-meter hurdles and 4X400
Sophie Jebose: Pole vault and 4X100
Semaj McGhee: High jump and triple jump
Myflore Methelus: 100-meter dash, 4X100
Jacqueline Pokuaah: 100-meter hurdles, long jump and 4X100
Shackera Samuels: 400-meter hurdles, 4X400 and 4X100
Kenisha Stubbs: 400-meter hurdles hurdle and 4X400
Jessica Williams: High jump, pole vault and 4X400
Kyle Alcine: High jump
Levi Armon: Shot put
Murphy Bavinga: Triple jump
Tanner Brown: Decathlon and 4X400
Gabriel Chinya: 4X800 and 1,500-meter run
Johan Cobena: Decathlon
Ablel Gebreselase: 10,000-meter and 800-meter run
Yuben Goncalves: 400-meter hurdles and 4X400
Jerrod Hoover: Javelin
Stephen Holland: 4X400
Louis Humbert: Pole Vault
Marco Joseph: 400-meter hurdles
Santino Kenyi: 4X800, 1,500-meter, and 5,000-meter runs
Saba Khvichava: 4X800 and 3,000-meter steeplechase
Dennis Kiptoo: 10,000-meter, 5,000-meter and 3,000-meter steeplechase
Lesley Mahlakoane: 400-meter dash and 4X400
Dais Malebana: 4X800, 1,500 and 800-meter runs
Kwanele Mthembu: 10,000-meter and 5,000-meter runs
Thom Reynders: 3,000-meter steeplechase
Sten Sepp: 400-meter hurdles and 4X400
Jaycob Vargas: Pole vault