Chinonyelum and McGhee podium in high jump on Day Two of NJCAA National Outdoor Track and Field Championships

Cloud County freshman Grace Chinonyelum finished as the national runner-up in the women's high jump final on Friday.
Cloud County freshman Grace Chinonyelum finished as the national runner-up in the women's high jump final on Friday.

HOBBS, New Mexico — Cloud County Community College freshman Dennis Kiptoo is a fast learner. And really, he's just plain fast.

Running in only his second career 3,000-meter steeplechase race, Kiptoo cruised to his first career national title to highlight Day Two of the NJCAA National Outdoor Track and Field Championships for the Thunderbirds.

Kiptoo, who entered the day as the No. 7 seed in the event with a qualifying time of 9:26.82, cut nearly six seconds off his time as he crossed the finish line in 9:20.99; a facility record at Ross Black Field of Champions.

Friday's performance added to an already strong national outdoor debut for Kiptoo after he claimed a runner-up finish in Thursday's 10,000-meter final.

Joining Kiptoo on the podium in the men's 3,000-meter steeple chase was fellow freshman Saba Khvichava in ninth place, finishing with a time of 10:01.17.

The 3,000-meter steeplechase capped what was a strong afternoon for the Cloud County men's team as the T-Birds also received All-American performances from sophomores Kyle Alcine and Tanner Brown, as well as freshman Johan Cobena.

Alcine, a Kansas State University signee, improved on his No. 6 seed in the high jump entering the day to finish in third place with a leap of 6-feet, 10-inches.

Brown and Cobena, each competing in the final day of the men's decathlon, worked their way onto the podium, with Brown finishing fourth overall (6,037 points) and Cobena earning sixth (5,934 points).

In the final event of the decathlon, Brown jumped two spots from sixth to fourth in the standings after finishing second in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:50.82.

Through eight scored events, the Cloud County men's team is currently in first with 46 points ahead of South Plains (37.5) in second.

For the Cloud County women's team, currently fifth in the team standings through nine scored events (27.25), the T-Birds only had one final on Friday, but they made the most of it as freshmen Grace Chinonyelum and Semaj McGhee each podiumed in the women's high jump.

Chinonyelum finished as the national runner-up with a jump of 5'4.5'' and McGhee joined her as an All-American with a ninth-place finish (5'2.25).

For Chinonyelum, it gave her two All-American finishes so far on the weekend after she earned fifth in Thursday's long jump final. She's also scheduled to compete in Saturday's triple jump final.

In preliminary action, Cloud County freshmen Dais Malebana and Santino Kenyi each put themselves in good position for the finals in the men's 1,500-run and 800-meter run.

The duo each finished second in their 1,500-meter heats, with Malebana heading into Saturday's final as the No. 3 seed with a time of 4:04:54 and Kenyi close behind him as the fourth seed (4:05.16).

Malebana will also begin the final day of competition as the favorite to win the men's 800-meter final as he ran the fastest prelim time (1:53.40) on Friday, while Kenyi goes into the final as the No. 5 seed (1:55.59).

Freshman hurdler Jacqueline Pokuaah punched her ticket to the finals in with the sixth fastest prelim time in the 100-meter hurdles prelims (14.20), as did sophomore Myflore Methelus in the 100-meter dash (8th, 11.81).

The Cloud County women's 4X400-meter relay team of Chanice Forbes, Jessica Williams, Kenisha Stubbs and Maryse Mbenoun also guaranteed themselves a spot in Saturday's final after posting the eighth fastest time in the prelims (4:08.52)

The third and final day of the NJCAA National Outdoor Track and Field Championships gets underway at 10 a.m. with the men's javelin and women's shot put finals. Running events then resume at 12:30 p.m. with the 4X100-meter finals.