Dirane wins Masterson Twilight Classic to highlight strong season opener for T-Birds

Sophomores Thobile Mosito (left) and Moses Dirane (right).
Sophomores Thobile Mosito (left) and Moses Dirane (right).

HUTCHINSON, Kansas — Friday evening, Cloud County Community College sophomore Moses Dirane picked up his second event win in as many trips to the Terry Masterson Twilight Classic in Hutchinson. The reigning national runner-up bested a field of 114 runners, and the rain soaked course at Fun Valley Sports Complex, with a time of 20:33.25.

The annual season opener for the T-Birds cross country teams, which was delayed twice due to rain and lightning in the areas, was especially important to Dirane. The NJCAA All-American was unsure how he'd fair in competition after some nagging injuries interrupted much of his offseason training.

"He was a little nervous coming into it because the summer training didn't go as it he had wanted," said Cloud County Community College head coach, Drew Mahin. "Coming out winning helped solidify his confidence and removed some doubts about whether or not he'd be ready for the season."

Dirane's victory highlighted what was a strong performance as a whole for the Cloud County men's team, which finished second in the team standings behind Fort Hays State University.

"Every kid out there had a great experience in this first meet, they managed themselves well. I was really happy with our whole team. It was a good foundation for us to build off," Mahin said.

Sophomore Thobile Mosito joined Dirane in the top-5 as he finished fifth with a time of 21:18. Longins Kouri and Burke Deters, a pair of freshmen making their collegiate debuts, each made great first impressions as they finished 9th (21:32.55) and 13th (21:38.12), respectively.

"Putting themselves in a position to compete and succeed right away was really, really cool to see. They didn't let the distractions of the weather or lightning delays get in their way," said Mahin, referring to Kouri and Deters. "It sets a tone for the rest of the season that they belong and they will expect more for themselves the rest of the way. We're going to need them to score for us this season and they exceeded my expectations in their first meet."

Freshman Deantre Hardiman added a 78th place finish (25:08.72) and Jeremy Ragsdale came in 85th place to round out Cloud's top finishers. (25:51.17)

On the women's side, freshman Alexis Cook paced the T-Birds as she finished in 26th out of 93 runners with a time of 20:11.62. Sophomore Thandeka Manzana followed in 33rd place (20:36.31) while freshman Sadie Jones came in 76th place (23.17.02).

"Thandeka and Alexis kind of had contrasting styles to that race," Mahin said. "Great first half for Thandeka and then she kind of faded. Alexis consistently got stronger with each mile. If those two continue to work together, they should be positive influences on each other and push each other throughout the season."

Up next for Cloud County will be a trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado this Saturday. The meet, hosted by Colorado College, will be at Monument Valley Park North.