Iowa Central doubles up as national champion for first time ever
Dee Brown found it hard to put into words just how proud he was of his Iowa Central cross country program on Saturday.
For the first time both in his 14 years as head coach and in school history, the Tritons earned both the men’s and women’s national titles in the same event at Lakside Golf Course. Freshman Adva Cohen, meanwhile, cruised through the women’s field for individual gold.
“I haven’t really though about it a lot yet, but now talking about it, it’s starting to hit me,” Brown said. “I’m so thrilled for these kids to be able to both win on their home course.”
The women ended a three-year drought atop the podium, securing their first crown since taking three straight NJCAA national trophies from 2011 to ’13. This was their sixth championship overall.
Iowa Central finished with 52 team points — 83 ahead of distant runner-up Central Arizona (135). Cowley County (175), Southern Idaho (179) and Allen County (204) rounded out the Top-5.
“The women came out a little slower, but put together an incredible team effort by the end,” Brown said. “They just competed really hard and knew what they had to do.”
Cohen became the third Triton to win the individual crown on the women’s side, and third straight Iowa Central runner to take gold. Leanne Pompeani won the individual NJCAA race in 2015 and 2016. In addition, Hannah Maina was the 2013 national champion.
Cohen throttled the rest of the field, winning by more than 19 seconds with the third-fastest 5k time at Lakeside in 17:24.4. Cohen has the second-fastest mark at 17:22.1, and Pompeani (17:21.6) has the quickest.
“Adva tough physically and mentally,” Brown said. “She knew all along that this was her race to win. The field was with her for a while, but she was able to distance herself from the rest.”
The women placed all five runners in the Top-20. Freshman Marion Bartilol (18:03) was fifth. Sophomore Aaliyah Regg Wajid (18:37) crossed in 13th. Sophomore Agnes Mansaray (18:47) and freshman Abeba Sullivan (18:49) were 16th and 17th, respectively.
The men earned their third national championship, and first since a repeat in 2014 and ’15. Iowa Central crushed the field, placing all five finishers in the Top-30 and posting just 66 team points.
Last year’s champion, Central Arizona, was second at 111, followed by South Plains (147).
“Watching them, I thought they got out a little too fast,” Brown said. “I was nervous at first, because a couple of they guys went out hard.
“The other guys in the field faded, and we came back and refocused.”
Freshman Ezekiel Kipchirchir (24:48) and sophomore Karim Achengli (24:51) were second and third, respectively. Southern Idaho’s Eric Fitzpartrick (24:45) used a strong kick in the final 200 meters to pull out the individual crown.
Freshman Jhordan Ccope (25:34), and sophomore Josh Jacques (25:48) were 15th and 18th, respectively. Freshman Gemechu Meskele (26:02) crossed in 27th.
With 630 runners and 86 teams in the field, Brown was impressed with the way the Fort Dodge community and Iowa Central served as the event’s host.
“There were so many people that had a hand in putting this on and making it a success,” Brown said. “This community has a ton of great people that helped make it run smoothly. I can’t thank them enough.”
Davidson returns to her roots
Cowley’s Danielle Davidson competed in a community familiar to her family here on Saturday.
Davidson participated in the NJCAA national cross country championships at Lakeside Golf Course. The sophomore at the community college in Kansas is the daughter of Jill and Jacob Davidson.
Davidson’s grandparents, Linda Phillips and Mark Woolridge, are both Fort Dodge Senior High graduates. Her great grandparents, Bob and Roberta Woolridge, also lived in Fort Dodge.
Davidson finished 82nd in 19:59.