FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas- The Cloud County Community College cross country teams helped make up the thousands of runners, ranging from the high school ranks to NCAA Division I programs, that descended to Fatetteville, Arkansas over the weekend for the 28th Annual Chili Pepper Festival.
"The team got a great experience racing against all levels of competition and bonding on an overnight trip," said Cloud County head coach, Drew Mahin. "It's important for our team heading into the regional and national meets."
Not only did the T-Birds get an experience, they held their own as the men's team finished 20th overall out of 45 Division II teams that tackled the eight kilometer course. They were led by freshmanMoses Dirane, who continued his incredible start to the 2016 season with a third-place finish out of 301 runners.
Dirane ran a time of 24 minutes, 6.57 seconds, the fastest of any junior college runner, and has now recorded top-5 finishes in each of his first five collegiate competitions.
Joining Dirance in the top-half of the field were freshmen Thobile Mosito and Stephen Marindich. Mosito crossed the line in 25:15.22 to finish 34th overall, while Marindich was 64th overall with a time of 25:55.24.
Freshman Thandeka Manzana paced the T-Birds' women's team as she finished 187th overall out of 253 runners with a time of 21:24.53. The women's course was five kilometers long.
Close behind was fellow freshman Ariel St. John in 189th position with a time of 21:28.06. Sophomore Camila Faundez (21:44.26, 201st), freshman Kara Rieth (24:04.85, 240th) and freshman Kiley Schmidtberger (27:11.81, 251st) closed out what Mahin said was a good step forward for many members of the women's team.
"Ariel, Thandeka and Camila keep improving every week. Ariel was very tough fighting through a sore ankle," Mahin said. "The whole team did a good job after a very fast first mile. They managed to recover and finish strong. The pace always gets pushed when that many runners are racing."
Notes: Former Cloud County runner Benard Keter, now at Texas Tech, was fourth overall for men's Division I runners.