Williams, Kiptoo each earn national runner-up finishes to highlight Day One of NJCAA National Outdoor Championships

Cloud County freshman Jessica Williams finished second overall in the women's pole vault on Day One of the NJCAA National Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Cloud County freshman Jessica Williams finished second overall in the women's pole vault on Day One of the NJCAA National Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

HOBBS, New Mexico — The Cloud County Community College track and field teams opened up action at the 2019 NJCAA National Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Thursday, hosted by New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, New Mexico.

Though nearly 674 miles separate Concordia from Hobbs, it was a Cloud County native that made the big splash on Day One for the T-Birds.

Freshman pole vaulter Jessica Williams tied a career-high with a vault of 12-feet, 1.5-inches en route to earning a national runner-up finish. Joining Williams on the podium in the event was fellow freshman Sophie Jebose, who claimed fifth overall with a vault of 11'2.25.

Williams, the Region VI/KJCCC Champion in the pole vault during the indoor and outdoor seasons, will aim for some additional hardware this weekend as she is scheduled to compete in the women's high jump and run a leg on the T-Birds 4X400-meter relay team.

The Cloud County women's team came away with two more top-5 finishes Thursday in the long jump final, with freshman Jacqueline Pokuaah earning third place and fellow freshman Grace Chinonyelum improving from her No. 8 seed entering the day to take fifth.

Pokuaah set a new personal record by more than four inches with her jump of 20'7.75. She'd also help the T-Birds' 4X100-meter relay team of Tanya Harcum, Chanice Forbes and Myflore Methelus to a fourth-place finish in the preliminaries (47.48) and to a spot in Saturday's final.

As for Chinonyelum, who was named the Central Athlete Field Athlete of the Year on Wednesday, she too set a PR on Thursday with a jump of 19'10.75, up from her qualifying mark of 19'4.75 going into the national meet.

On the men's side, freshman distance runners Dennis Kiptoo and Kwanele Mthembu closed out Day One action in the 10,000-meter runner.

Kiptoo crossed the finish line in 31 minutes, 29.49 seconds to finish as the national runner-up, while Mthembu placed sixth in a time of 32:28.20.

In the men's pole vault, sophomore Louis Humbert was able to overcome a nagging hamstring injury to claim a fourth-place finish with a vault of 15'1. He will graduate as the Cloud County indoor school record holder in the event (15'7.25) set during the 2019 Region VI/KJCCC Championships.

Thursday also served as the first of two competition days for the men's decathlon and women's heptathlon multi events.

Through five events, Cloud County sophomore Tanner Brown (3,393 points) and freshman Johan Cobena (3,265 points) sit back-to-back in fourth place and fifth place, respectively.

Brown picked up event wins in the 100-meter dash (10.80) and in the 400-meter dash (49.66). Cobena scored the bulk of his points with sixth-place finishes in the long jump (21'4) and high jump (6'0) events.

Cloud County freshman Maryse Mbenoun is in 13th place through four events of the women's heptathlon with 1,828 points, highlighted by a fourth-place finish in the high jump (4'10.5)

In preliminary action, sophomore sprinters Kenisha Stubbs and Lesley Mahlakoane each punched their ticket to their respective finals in the 400-meter dash.

Mahlakoane, the new signee to the University or Arkansas, placed fifth in the men's 400-meter dash prelim in a time of 47.36 seconds, while Stubbs finished sixth in the women's 400-meter prelim in a time of 1:05.19.

Through five events scored, the Cloud County men sit in second place overall with 22 points, just five behind first-place Coffeyville. The women's team heads into Friday in third place with 21.5 points, the most for any KJCCC team on Day One.

Day Two action is slated to get underway at 9 a.m. Friday when the men's decathlon and women's heptathlon events resume. The men's high jump final kicks off field events at 11 a.m. and running events start at 1 p.m. with the women's 1,500-meter run preliminaries.