PITTSBURG – Making a statement and solidifying their number-two national ranking, the Cloud County Community College men's track and field team would cruise on Sunday to a third-consecutive NJCAA Region VI Indoor Track and Field Championship inside the Plaster Center in Pittsburg on Sunday.
In the final team scoring race, Cloud County would finish with 179 points and as just one of two teams to break the 100-point mark with Region VI runner-up Barton coming in with 120 points. Third-place Cowley would be the only other team within 100 points of the T-Birds by finishing with 93 points as a large gap would be had from there on beginning with fourth-place Coffeyville (66 points).
Starting the day with the conclusion of the heptathlon, Cloud County would get heptathlon event victories from all three of their heptathletes with Zachery Jones taking the 60-meter hurdles (8.77), Renaldo Savoury winning the pole vault with a national qualifying mark of 4.31 meters (14 ft. – 1.75 in.), and Andrew Betton winning the 1,000 meters (2:57.66). The final tally from the seven-event haul would see Betton win a Region VI Championship with 4,736 points, with Jones taking fourth (4,159 points), and Savoury coming in sixth (4,035 points).
Things would continue on the dominating trend for CCCC as the next event up would be the shot put where sophomore Courtney Lawrence would set a meet record on his way to a Region VI Championship with a throw of 18.49 meters (60 ft. – 8 in.) while Daniel Cope would take sixth (14.90 meters, 48 ft. – 10.75 in.). The T-Birds would go on to add event victories in the 4x800 meter relay team as Rylan Cheney, Michael Iyali, Edwin Kipainoi, and Habtamu Geta would team up for a national qualifying time of 7:57.98 while Ephraim Lerkin etched his name into the list of Region VI Champions with a national qualifying and event-winning time of 1:21.69 in the 600 meters.
Lerkin would then go on to land a national qualifying time of 1:56.98 in the 800 meters alongside Cheney who would post a national qualifying time of his own of 1:57.09 as the pair would take fifth and sixth in the 800 meters to add to Cloud County's point lead. Other new national qualifying times ran by Cloud County athletes on Sunday would see Geta post a time of 4:17.50 in the mile run for a fourth-place finish and Shadrick Tansi take seventh in the 400 meters with a time of 49.00 as CCCC would add seven new times and marks on the day.
The T-Birds would also see a school-record fall in the final event of the day as the 4x400 meter relay team would take third overall but run a time of 3:13.90 to eclipse the old record set in 2014 by 0.53 seconds.
Landing a pair of top-three finishes would be Awet Beraki as the sophomore would take third in the mile run (4:14.85) and 3,000 meters (8:28.52) while Geta would come in fourth in the 3,000 meters with a time of 8:43.09. Timothy Nyinguan would also get in on the action to add a pair of top-four finishes by taking third in the 600 meters (1:22.63) before going on to jump 14.07 meters (46 ft. – 2 in.) in the triple jump for a fourth-place finish in his only two events of the day.
The 1,000 meters would see a two-three-four finish by CCCC athletes as Beraki (2:36.00), Iyali (2:36.43), and Cheney (2:36.65) all finished within a second of each other for a big-point scoring event by the T-Birds to go along with a third and fourth-place finish in the high jump from Betton and Elijah Wilson (both cleared 2.00 meters, 6 ft. – 6.75 in.) to close out a day that saw 18 top-five finishes.
Cloud County has just one more event remaining on the schedule ahead of the 2021 NJCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championships as the Cowley College Last Chance Qualifier will be held next week. A date has yet to be determined and will be made based on weather forecasts to allow for optimal conditions, and will serve as the final opportunity for T-Bird athletes to post national qualifying times and marks.