The Colby Community College women's cross country team took first and the men placed second at the Region VI Championships Oct. 30 in Garden City.
It was a banner day for the Trojans. With the finishes, each team also captured the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference western division title. Coach Cameron Rieth was named the Region VI Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year as well as the Region VI Coach of the Champions.
"What an incredible journey," said Rieth. "We have been talking about this from day one. We were not the favorites to win, but the course and weather conditions were made for who we are. Both of our teams are scrappy and feisty competitors."
Many considered the women's victory to be an upset, as they bested the nation's second ranked team in Cowley County by a point (44-43). The last time Colby won the region championship was in 1999 when Kirk Hunter's squad won the national championship.
Winnie Kibet defended her 2016 region and conference titles with a time of 18:45. Her teammates also turned in solid performances, as all five of Colby's scoring runners finished in the top 13. Sharon Kimutai came in seventh at 20:36 and Mackenzie Dill completed in 20:38, good enough for tenth. Jessica Gamez-Ramos (20:44) finished twelvth and Aileen Gurrola (20:47) was right behind her for thirteenth. Also helping the Lady Trojans win their second straight Jayhawk crown were: Allison Hiatt (21:15), Trizer Wangari (21:23), Jess Ixta (22:23), Gaven Murphey (22:57), and Emily Westeman (24:35).
Oscar Leyva led the Trojan men with a third place time of 26:44 and Illey Bruce returned from a leg injury to finish fourteenth in 27:18. Emmanuel Kipngetich (27:28), Gibson Weydeveld (28:10), Caleb Carrasco (28:13), Mauro Arancibia (28:13), Tito Gonzalez (28:19), Austin Russell (28:27), Bobby Silva (29:50) and Stephen Lott (31:40) also contributed to the team's first conference title since 2014, under Coach James Ortiz.
Both teams now prepare for the NJCAA Cross Country Championships on Nov. 11 in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
"The Buffalo Dunes in Garden City is one of the hardest courses in the nation but we knew we were prepared," Rieth said. "Now we take it to a bigger scale at nationals. I believe there is still room for improvement. We will be ready."