Cloud County women's team takes home 7th at NJCAA National Outdoor Championships

Cloud County freshman Grace Chinonyelum won the women's triple jump national championship Saturday with a school-record jump of 45'9.75.
Cloud County freshman Grace Chinonyelum won the women's triple jump national championship Saturday with a school-record jump of 45'9.75.

HOBBS, New Mexico — The Cloud County Community College women's track and field team closed out a strong showing at the 2019 NJCAA National Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday, racking up eight All-American finishes on the day to give the T-Birds 14 top-10 finishes over the three days at Ross Black Field of Champions in Hobbs, New Mexico.

"We had a lot of individuals step up and have unbelievable marks the last few days," said Cloud County head women's coach, Ted Schmitz. "And that's exactly what you want to see this time of year. You hope with all the training and being at the national meet, the kids will take it to the next level."

Leading the way for the T-Birds, who finished seventh overall as a team with 57.25 points, was freshman Grace Chinonyelum as she capped her incredible freshman season with a dominating win in the women's triple jump final.

Chinonyelum, a three-time national champion as a freshman including the indoor season, completed her sweep of this year's triple jump finals with a jump of 45-feet, 9.75 inches to top her own previous school record of 43'10.

"Grace's triple jump was an unbelievable jump, probably one of, if not the best, triple jump for a freshman in any college anywhere," Schmidt said. "She was definitely focused and she's a strong, determined athlete. All the things came together at the right time for her."

Chinonyelum also served as an alternate at the Cloud County women's 4X100-meter relay team of Chanice Forbes, Myflore Methelus and Jacqueline Pokuaah that didn't miss a beat en route to a seventh-place finish in a time of 47.99.

"She's just an incredibly special athlete," Schmitz said of Chinonyelum, who was named the Central Region Female Field Athlete of the Year prior to the national meet.

Pokuaah and Methelus each worked their way on to the podium in individual events Saturday, as well, as Methelus closed out her Cloud County career with an eighth-place finish in the 100-meter dash (12.10) and Pokuaah capped her breakout freshman season with a fifth-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles (14.08).

Methelus was a Cinderella story in 100-meter dash, going into the weekend as the No. 20 overall seed and coming away with All-American honors.

Pokuaah, who set the Cloud County school record in Friday's long jump final with a mark of 20'7.75, finished the weekend as a six-time All-American between her hurdles, jumping and relay team events.

"Jacqueline had a fantastic freshman year. The freshman year is one of those things where you don't know what to expect," Schmitz said. "With the adjustment of moving across the world, acclimating to school and all the training; it's pretty remarkable."

Sophomore javelin thrower Shanee Angol, the national runner-up finish as a freshman, threw a season-best 143'9 to finish in third place. She will graduate as Cloud County's school record holder in the event at 153'3 set in 2018.

Another Cloud County sophomore, hurdler Kenisha Stubbs, also closed out her time in a T-Birds' uniform in impressive fashion as she placed fourth in the 400-meter hurdles in a school-record time of 1:02.92.

The former walk-on had entered Saturday's final as the No. 8 seed with a qualifying time of 1:03.90. Stubbs' time on Saturday edged the previous school record of 1:03.40 set by Brenda Barnett in 2013.

"Kenisha was a walk-on athlete who came in last year and ran 68 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles, never even qualified for nationals," Schmitz said. "She has just continued to persevere, train hard and kept a good attitude. I couldn't be any happier for her."

Cloud County finished off Day Three action with the women's 4X400-meter relay, earning one final podium appearance on the weekend with a seventh-place finish.

The team of Forbes, Pokuaah, Stubbs and Tanya Harcum ran a time of 4:02.61 and improved upon their 10th seed entering the weekend.

With 13 freshmen on the T-Birds' roster, many set to return to Concordia again next fall, Schmitz said he is encouraged about what lies ahead for the Cloud County women's team as it now turns its attention toward 2019-2020.

"It was a little disappointing this year to not have two sophomores in Avi Bulai and Nikki Kraaijeveld with us due to injury. That would have really helped us here. But we're always hopeful," Schmitz said. "We have a very good freshman class, and a pretty good recruiting class coming in already. We're hoping we'll seal the deal on a few more and we're really optimistic about next year."