The Trinidad State cross country teams traveled to Garden City, Kansas this past weekend to take on the best in the country at the NJCAA National Cross Country Championships hosted by Garden City Community College. High winds and rolling hills would bring slow times but heated competition at the beautiful Buffalo Dunes Golf Course, where the women competed over 5k and the men over 8k.
The Trojan women were off first, facing 39 other teams from around the country. Benadine Chelimo and Toni Moore led the charge for the Trojans as they had all season. The pair of TSJC sophomores battled it out with the best runners in the country at the front of the pack for the entirety of the race with Chelimo eventually finishing 12th and Moore only 12 seconds behind in 17th. Both of these ladies earned All-American status, Toni Moore for her third time total and Benadine Chelimo for her second. Mary Baldwin came in next for TSJC in 45th place, followed thereafter by Kathryn Sauerwein in 82nd, Camille Ruggles in 113th, and Vanessa Davis at 163rd. These ladies would combine for 242 total points and finish in 7th place overall, the program's highest finish at a National Championship to date. Iowa Central Community College would win the women's championship with 45 points. Everlyn Kemboi of El Paso Community College won the women's individual title.
Coach Masterson was very happy with the women's performance saying, "Our ladies represented TSJC very well. They brought us our highest finish so far in cross country while facing some challenges in the middle parts of the race. Benadine and Toni did a great job leading our girls and the rest of them did well to compete over every step of the course."
The men's 8k set off into the wind, with Godfrey Chama leading TSJC to the finish as he had the whole year. Chama crossed in 26th place overall, which earned him All-American status. Derek Holdsworth followed in 56th place before John McMahon (78th), Cody Danley (88th), and Joseph Enright (95th) rounded out the Trojan's scoring five runners. Riley Allen and Bailey Smith finished in 103rd and 117th respectively. The men's team score would be good enough to place them 11th overall, which is also the men's programs highest finish to date in cross country.
Coach Masterson commented, "Our guys didn't put their best foot forward today. We wanted a lot more, but fell short today. We can only learn from our mistakes and be better in the future. Godfrey Chama has come a long way and I'm proud of him for earning his first All-American award in Cross Country to go with his many from track."
Both teams finish the season with their highest ever finishes at a Cross Country National Championship, both as Region IX Champions, with three All-Americans between both programs, and with two Individual Region IX Champions. The cross country programs continue to improve with each year and represent Trinidad State very well. The student-athletes will have only a short bit of down time before they compete in their first indoor track meet at Adams State University on December 8th.