CONCORIDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College cross country teams won't have to travel too far from home this year to participate in the NJCAA National Meet, which is set for Saturday in El Dorado, Kansas and hosted by Butler Community College.
The event will be ran at Prairie Trails Golf Course, with the women's 5K race starting at 11 a.m. followed by the men's 8K at noon.
After a grueling summer of preparation and a long fall competition, Cloud County head coach Drew Mahin said his team has done everything they can do, physically, at this point heading into the crown of the season.
"I love the quote 'The hay is already in the barn.' The work has already been done," Mahin said. "We just kind of have to get out of our own way at this point and stay mentally prepared and focused."
The T-Birds are taking six men's runners, including sophomores Bryce Ginther and Nick Roark, and a quartet of freshman: Dominic Rotich, Moses Dirane, Thobile Mosito, and Stephen Marindich
"We have a really good chance to score well on the men's side. It really just depends on how the weather conditions factor in," Mahin said. "If we have a good race, we should be possibly in the top-15 in the nation as a men's team and could walk away with 2-3 guys in the top-10 with All-American finishes."
Two of the Cloud County runners, Dirane and Mosito, should have the opportunity to win the meet. Dirane won five races during the regular season, including the KJCCC/Region VI Championship on Oct. 29 in Hutchinson, Kansas. Mosito, who had led much of the race before Dirane took the top spot over during the final mile, came in second.
The duo plan will again be pushing each other this Saturday for the right to a national title.
"We train well together and we had trained a few times together back home in South Africa," Mosito said. "We push each other and he's been pushing me to try and lead more and gain more confidence in leading him, especially. During the race, we'll go with each other and I'll have a chance to finish in the top-2. That would be a bonus. But a top-5 is what I'm aiming for."
Cloud County's women's team heading to the national meet will consist of four runners since freshman Rebecca 'Beba" Scholz is unable to run due to illness. Sophomores Stephanie Barrett and Camila Faundez, as well as freshmen Ariel St. John and Thandeka Manzana will make the trip down to El Dorado.
"It'll be a good mix of kids getting their first real experience at the national championships, along with sophomore leadership," said Mahin, referring to the women's team. "Stephanie Barrett is our only returner that has had an All-American experience in cross country. Last year she finished 15th and she is so much healthier. I believe she can have a top-10 finish this year."
The weather and course conditions at Prairie Trails Golf Course are expected to be ideal, and the course itself will feature rolling hills and a challenging incline to the finish line. Spectators will have access to great general viewing points that oversee multiple passes by the runners.
"When we were there earlier in the year, it was almost 90 degrees and 30 mile per hour wind gusts, so not ideal conditions at all. Times were 2-3 minutes slower for everybody during that pre-national championships meet," Mahin said. "But I think that was a great test for us to know, at the end of the day, you still have to compete no matter what."
Prairie Trails Golf Course is located at 1100 Country Club Lane. Eldorado, KS. 67042.
Women's 5K race: 11 a.m.
Men's 8K race: 12 p.m.