CONCORDIA – Nearly two years removed from winning the program’s first national title, the Cloud County Community College men’s track and field team will enter their 2021 seasons this weekend as the reigning NJCAA Division I Outdoor National Champions.
Although the reasoning for being the reigning national champs in the outdoor part of the season comes due to a cancellation of last year’s outdoor season due to COVID-19, the T-Birds will once again look to be a contender in both the indoor and outdoor seasons which get underway this weekend at the Highland Community College Challenge.
With a nucleus of seven returning national qualifiers from last year’s NJCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championship meet, CCCC will begin 2021 as the two-time defending NJCAA Region VI Indoor Champions as the T-Birds have won the last four NJCAA Region VI Championships conducted dating back to the 2019 Indoor Championships. What might make the 2021 season more unique however is the fact that all athletes who compete this season will retain their year of eligibility as many schools have already made the decision to not compete which is sure to change the national outlook and NJCAA Indoor National Championships which will be conducted the first weekend of March.
“This is a completely different year than I’ve experienced in my 44 years at Cloud County and 10 years of high school coaching but we are preparing for both an indoor and outdoor season this year,” said CCCC head men’s track and field coach Harry Kitchener. “We’ve been able to bring in a good group of athletes that should help us this year as it’s been a bit tougher getting athletes in this year due to all that has happened with COVID-19.” “We’re looking forward to going through this season and facing the different challenges and restrictions that will be in place as the meets will look different this year and our opportunities to qualify our athletes for the national meet will likely be more limited.” “Situations are going to arise this season that are COVID-19 related, but we just have to make the most of what we have and deal with those issues as they arise.”
Returning for Cloud County from last year’s squad include shot put national runner up Courtney Lawrence and weight throw fourth-place finisher Daniel Cope as the duo will be expected to anchor down the throwing events while Marcquiece Cade and Andrew Betton will return following top-10 finishes in the Heptathlon at last year's Indoor National Championships. Other returners who competed at the Indoor National Championship meet last year include Habtamu Geta who is fresh off a pair of top-four finishes at the 2020 NJCAA Division I Cross Country National Championships and NJCAA 1/2 Marathon Championships in the fall along with distance runner Saba Khvichava and triple jumper Goga Maglakelidze.
In total, Cloud County is scheduled to compete in nine total meets this season including the 2021 NJCAA Region VI Indoor Championships and 2021 NJCAA Indoor National Championships which are both set to be conducted in Pittsburg. The T-Birds will also get three looks at the brand new indoor track and field facility at Washburn University while going to Highland CC three times and Cowley once. If schedule changes are to arise throughout the season due to COVID-19, those changes will be announced at www.cloudtbirds.com.