FORT DODGE, Iowa - With one final opportunity to leave their mark on the 2020 cross country season, Cloud County Community College sophomore Awet Beraki would run the third-fastest time in NJCAA Half Marathon Championship history en route to winning an individual National Title in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on Tuesday.
Competing less than 72 hours after the conclusion of the 2020 NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, CCCC would field a men's team with four runners while sophomore Patricia Koma would represent the T-Bird women in what was officially the final event to take place in the 2020 portion of the 2020-2021 athletic year for the NJCAA.
With Beraki leading the way, the Cloud County men would manage to come away as National Runner-Up, scoring 20 points and trailing only 2020 National Champion and host Iowa Central who was able to complete the cross country/half marathon sweep with 15 points. North Iowa Area CC (32 points), Trinidad State JC (35 points), and Hagerstown CC (37 points) would round out the top five in the 10 team field.
Needing only three scoring runners to produce a team score, Cloud County would give the host Tritons a battle throughout as Beraki set a blistering pace that would see the Colorado Springs, CO native lead at all three timing marks (five miles, 10 miles, finish line) while extending his lead out and finishing with a time of 1:05:06.3 to run the third-fastest time in NJCAA Half Marathon Championship history. The National Championship for Beraki comes following a sixth-place finish at the NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships on Saturday and caps off a three-week span that saw Beraki win the NJCAA Region VI Individual Championship to go along with the top-10 at the National meet and National Championship finish at the Half Marathon Championship.
Earning a second-consecutive top-five finish to conclude his cross country career with the T-Birds would be Habtamu Geta as the Houston, Texas native would take fourth-place in the Half Marathon Championship by posting a time of 1:09:26.90 to earn All-American honors. After being timed in the eighth-position at the five-mile mark, Geta would make a three-spot jump over the next five-miles to position himself in the top-five of the race before one final push in the final 3.1 miles would give him one more spot up the leaderboard to earn the fourth-place mark. CCCC would also have Michael Iyali (1:13:43.80) and Linus Limo (1:14:21.60) run in the race, finishing 17th and 19th respectively to secure the National Runner-Up finish after taking fourth in the Cross Country Championships on Saturday.
Cloud County's lone women's runner to take on the 13.1-mile challenge on Tuesday would be sophomore Patricia Koma who was fresh off a National Runner-Up finish in the Cross Country National Championships as the Wichita, Kansas native would jump out to an early lead at the five-mile mark before managing to finish as national runner-up for a second-straight race. Posting a time of 1:27:28.80, Koma would fall just 49 seconds shy of winning a national title while holding a nearly two-minute lead over the third-place finisher in the 34-runner field. Koma's season concludes with two race victories, four runner-up victories (which includes the two National Runner-Up finishes), and one third-place finish in seven races this season.
With the season officially concluded for the T-Bird cross country teams, Cloud County finishes the year with a pair of NJCAA Region VI and Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference West Division titles, a Region VI Individual Champion, an NJCAA Half-Marathon Individual National Champion, seven All-Americans, and a pair of team National Runner-Up finishes while managing to complete a full season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.