CMC Eagles fly higher than expected at their first cross country nationals | PostIndependent.com
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CMC Eagles fly higher than expected at their first cross country nationals

CMC runner Anayeli Almanza of Olathe joined her four other teammates on the Eagles women's cross-country team at the National Junior College Athletic Association cross country nationals in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Nov. 14. This is the first year that women have competed on the CMC team.

Colorado Mountain College’s men’s and women’s cross country teams both finished higher than their rankings coming in at the Nov. 14 National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division 1 Cross Country 2020 Championships.

The multi-campus CMC team traveled to Iowa to compete against more than 250 college runners in just the second season for the men’s team, and the first for the CMC women.

“What happened at Fort Dodge, Iowa, was heroic, inspirational and downright fun,” said Darren Brungardt, the Eagles’ head coach and an associate mathematics professor at CMC Leadville.

The meet was hosted by Iowa Central Community College at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge.

The CMC men entered the competition ranked 19th in their NJCAA division, and the women’s team was ranked 20th.

The respective races saw the men improve to 13th place overall, while the women finished 15th.

Personal bests in 8K

In the men’s 8-kilometer race, second-year runner Jason Macaluso from Vail (Battle Mountain High School) led CMC’s team with a time of 27 minutes, 59.39 seconds, his season best. That earned him 56th place overall in the field of 150 runners.

Luke Plummer (Seymour, Indiana) was CMC’s second overall finisher in 78th place, running a personal best time of 28:32.03. Finishing third for CMC was second-year runner Jack Setser (Wichita, Kansas). His time of 28:37.99, a personal record by a full minute, placed him 81st overall.

Rounding out the field for the Eagles were a quartet of first-year runners, including: Reese Fledderjohn (Grand Junction) finishing with a one-minute PR of 28:50.80 in 85th place; Adam Garcia (Dacono, Colorado), 28:59.98, a nearly a 90-second PR, 91st; Autry Lomahongva (Kayenta, Arizona), 29:44.64 in 108th; and, Skyler Winter (Peyton, Colorado), 30:46.84 in 123rd place.

Women rally in 5K

How do you attend a national collegiate running meet during a pandemic? You mask up. At the National Junior College Athletic Association's nationals in Fort Dodge, Iowa, members of the CMC women’s cross-country team wait their turn to run the 5K. From left are Madisen Johnson, Cami Trujillo, Anayeli Almanza, Kya Jackson and Ember Penas.

Among the 104 runners in the women’s 5-kilometer race, CMC’s team of five first-year runners were led by Kya Jackson (Cody, Wyoming), finishing in 22:36.49 for 77th place.

Madisen Johnson (Windsor, Colorado) ran a 20-second PR of 23:24.84 to finish 84th overall. Cami Trujillo (Pueblo) ran a 40-second PR of 24:11.68, finishing 89th overall. Anayeli Almanza (Olathe) finished in 27:44.95, taking 99th place, and Ember Penas (Seward, Nebraska) had a time of 28:30.44, finishing in 100th place.

“This was only Ember’s second race of the season,” Brungardt said, “but her gutsy performance allowed the women to finish in the team scoring for only the second time in the program’s history.

“This race will be the foundation for the team moving forward,” Brungardt added. “The college’s cross-country team and our Alpine ski team based in Steamboat Springs are our versions of football and basketball at other colleges and universities across the country.”

“We are so grateful for the support we had from the CMC community,” CMC Athletic Director Angela Dunn said. “Nationals was a fantastic experience that I know our student-athletes will remember for the rest of their lives.”


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