Article by Ed Petruska "Casa Grande Disptach" 11/11/2019
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — National title hopes for Central Arizona College cross country vanished into thin air Saturday.
Competing at nearly mile-high altitude (5,174 feet), the CAC men took fourth and the women placed fifth in the Division I NJCAA Championships.
"We had some bad luck," said CAC coach Paul Tavares, who did not mention altitude as being the decisive factor. "Things just didn't work out."
The Vaqueros scored 154 points to trail Cloud County (Kansas) (89), El Paso (Texas) (110) and Iowa Central (140).
The Vaqueras finished with 137 points, two behind South Plains (Texas). Iowa Central had four runners in the top 11 and won by a 47-point margin (60-107) over New Mexico Junior College. It was the third consecutive title and eighth overall for the Tritons. El Paso was third with 125 points.
"Our top four on both sides ran pretty well," Tavares said. "We had some good performances."
Unexpected subpar performances by the projected No. 5 runners on each team "really hurt us. I'm proud of what we did, but our expectations are always pretty high," he said.
The Vaqueros have won four NJCAA titles and finished second four times since Tavares took over the program in 2010. The Vaqueras have six runner-up finishes and one third place during that 10-year span.
"Although we're disappointed, we still have a great group of athletes who worked their tails off this season," Tavares said. "One meet is not going to define them."
Leading the way for the Vaqueros in the 8-kilometer race at the University of New Mexico's golf course was James Kapel, who took 23rd overall out of 343 finishers in 25 minutes, 24 seconds. Jesus Aldana was 27th in 25:31, Aaron Orar was 28th in 25:32, Habtemu Cheney was 30th in 25:36 and former Vista Grande High School standout Noah Olmos was 62nd in 26:31.
For scoring purposes, Kapel was 21st, Aldana was 24th, Orar was 25th, Cheney was 27th and Olmos was 57th.
Alisia Honyumptewa was the first Vaquera to cross the finish line, taking 17th out of 290 finishers with a time of 19:06 in the 5K race. The other scoring runners were Makayah Richard (19th in 19:14), Precious Robinson (23rd in 19:18), Lesego Mpshe (32nd in 19:34) and Tshwanelo Maruping (55th in 20:14).
Taylor Murphy was 100th in 21:07 and Esther Beck took 106th in 21:10.
For scoring purposes, Honyumptewa was 16th, Richard was 18th, Robinson was 22nd, Mpshe was 30th and Maruping was 51st.
Wesley Banguria of Colby (Kansas) won the men's race with a time of 22:55. Iowa Western's Faith Chepengat posted a first-place time of 16:49 in the women's race.
Mesa took ninth out of 37 teams, and Paradise Valley was 12th in the women's standings. Paradise Valley placed 11th and Mesa took 14th in the 45-team men's standings.