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Tritons host national championships

Women’s team sidelined by quarantine

Regardless of what happens this Saturday, the Iowa Central cross country program will feel disappointed.

The Tritons host the NJCAA National Championships at Lakeside Golf Course, bringing together all three levels of cross country to the site for the first time since 2017.

Last year, the Iowa Central women claimed a second consecutive team title. However, due to being placed in quarantine, the odds-on favorite will not be able to run this weekend.

“The end of our women’s season is heartbreaking,” said Dee Brown, Iowa Central’s Director of Cross Country. “We were so close to finishing what we started out after since last spring. We knew the rises all year long and are thankful for the accomplishments and experiences granted us. We may see them come back for the half marathon championships on Tuesday, but who knows what will be left in the physical and emotional tank after 14 days in quarantine.”

Iowa Central swept several team titles during the regular season before punching tickets to nationals with a dominating performance again at regionals on the same course. The men are paced by Kelvin Bungei, who has earned national and ICCAC runner of the week awards throughout the past few months.

“To be able to have a ‘home course advantage’ will be critical for our guys as they now have an idea of how the course runs,” Iowa Central head coach Nick Ekel said. “They’ll benefit from having Triton fans cheering along the course.

“Since the 2020 outdoor track and field season was canceled by the pandemic, our guys have been training for the opportunity to race for a national championship at home. We are very proud of the work our men have done this season and we are hopeful that work will shine through on Saturday.”

The Tritons will host the half marathon championships on Tuesday. The Iowa Central women also claimed that crown last year.

Brown and Ekel both extended their thanks to the staff at Lakeside Golf Course and the Fort Dodge Parks and Recreation Department for their help in hosting both events.

“Without Chad Graaf, Lori Branderhorst and their incredible staffs, this would not be possible,” Brown said. “They have been monumental in helping us host these meets. They are instrumental.”

Ekel added, “hosting a national championship is a huge undertaking, which only happens with the hard work and dedication of many people. Thank you to all the volunteers, the city of Fort Dodge, the Fort Dodge Convention and Visitors Bureau, the NJCAA and the administration at Iowa Central.”

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