DALLAS, Ga. - One week after the Iowa Central women's cross country team claimed its third straight NJCAA Div. I cross country title, the men earned their third consecutive NJCAA Half Marathon championship here over the weekend.
The women's team finished fourth overall.
"This was an amazing end to another great year for our program," said ICCC head coach Dee Brown. "To run so well just one week after the national cross country meet is a testament to how our kids train. This is a tough race because we aren't training or competing at this distance during the season, but our kids responded very well."
Tahir Chakisso and Frankline Tonui swept the top two individual spots for the men, breaking the existing record set by former Triton Stanley Kebenei. Chakisso caught his teammate with 200 meters to go and battled past Tonui to finish in 1:06:11.48, while Tonui clocked a 1:06.12.36.
Dylan Eigenberger (8th, 1:10:47.22), Tyson Wieland (13th, 1:11:34.74), Blake Whalen (17th, 1:12:57.00) and Levi Storjohann (22nd in 1:14:42.73) rounded out the Triton lineup.
It was Iowa Central's fourth overall championship in the Half Marathon, the most by any program in NJCAA history. Chakisso's individual title was also the fifth individual title and third straight won by a Triton.
"It's quite an accomplishment for the guys," Brown said. "They take a lot of pride in the race. It's fun to see their excitement and intensity level for the race and to be able to win it as convincingly as they did says a lot about their preparation."
Hannah Maina, fresh off her individual national title at the NJCAA Cross Country Championships, anchored the Tritons with a second place finish in 1:25:49.32, setting a school record in the process. Fort Dodge graduate Tara Jackson (16th, 1:32.48.96), Lauren Roberts (23rd, 1:37.08.10), Lindsay Roberts (28th, 1:38:21.68) and FDSH prep Amberly Habhab (42nd, 1:42.45.18) were the other Triton runners. Iowa Central competed without Adem Alemu, who was third at the NJCAA Cross Country Championships and Kim Carter who had her appendix removed after finishing 16th at the national meet.
"The women were banged up, they gave it all they had and I am so proud," said Brown. "To compete like they did after a long season, and on the heels of a draining national title, is pretty impressive."
The top six men's and women's finishers were named All-American by the NJCAA, Chakisso, Tonui and Maina were each All-Americans. Jackson, Eigenberger, Wieland and Whalen each earned All-American honors from the Cross Country Coaches Association, which recognizes the top 15 U.S. Citizens.
In addition to the Half Marathon success, Iowa Central's women's team claimed its third consecutive cross country title - its fifth in seven years - while the men finished national runner up. Both teams also ran to championships in both the Region XI Time Trial and Region XI Championships.