HUTCHINSON — Sporting three of the top 10 runners in the region, the Cowley College women’s cross country team brought home its first Region VI team title since 2010 on Oct. 29 in Hutchinson.
Cowley head coach Dan Adler was named Region VI Women’s Coach of the Meet and Coach of the Year.
“Obviously, winning the region was our number-one priority, as it includes all 16 schools, not just eight,” Adler said.
“Allen’s lack of depth in the 4-5 spot did not hurt them as badly in the smaller conference (as) it did in the region.”
Cowley freshman Naomi Similus’ time of 19:23.04 in the 5K race was good enough for second in the conference and fourth in the region.
Courtney Griffiths (19:57.51) and Anytcy Marin (19:59.95) also ran well, placing ninth and 10th in the region, respectively.
“Those three ran fantastic,” Adler said. “All three should be competing for All-American honors in two weeks at the national meet.”
Cowley freshmen Kaitlyn Terbush (20:19.65), Danielle Davidson (20:35.14), and Jessica Sosa (20:49.82) were not far behind — all three placed among the top 27, out of 99 runners at the meet.
Cassidy Cummings (21:14.91), Kayla Gourley (21:34.36), Skyler Blakley (22:19.60) and Rylie McConnell (23:46.29) rounded out the runners.
Adler said he is proud of his team’s accomplishments.
“The women set a goal early in the season to be in a position to win the region championship,” he said.
“A lot can happen on race day and we can’t control how other teams race, so it’s always tough to define the success of a season by placing first. They earned the opportunity to fight for the region crown and they stepped up to win the meet.”
Allen’s Kaitlyn Shoemaker (18:39.06) was the only runner with a faster time than Similus in the conference, while Colby Community College’s Winnie Kibet (18:28.54) had the fastest time in the region.
Cowley men finish seventh in region
The Cowley College men did not run as well as they hoped, however — they finished fourth in the conference and seventh in the region.
“I am expecting a much better performance in two weeks and it is our goal to finish in the top 20 at the national meet,” Adler said.
Freshmen Clayton Fletcher (28:08.09) and Livan Aguilar (28:08.42) were Cowley’s top finishers, placing 26th and 27th in the region, respectively.
Andres Ruiz (28:51.54) and Connor Wright (28:55.78) were not far behind, placing 42nd and 44th. Bryan Gutierrez (29:33.00), Jorge Ramirez (30:00.32), Miguel Ibarra (30:20.05), Richardo Sanchez (31:17.34) and Miguel Martinez (32:24.19) were other Cowley runners at the meet.
“We still haven’t had five guys put it together on the same day this season,” Adler said. “Perhaps it is because we are so young, or perhaps some of our lack of summer training is catching up to us.”
The Allen men finished as the conference and region champions. Allen’s Ricardo Banuelos (26:04.41) was the top finisher in the Jayhawk East, while Cloud County’s Moses Dirane (25:16.34) had the top time in the region.
Adler said the Tigers will use this season as a learning experience and should be much stronger in 2017.
As for the Cowley women, he expects the team to leave everything it has on the course at the NJCAA Division II National Championships on Nov. 12 in El Dorado.
“We have already exceeded our expectations for this season by winning the region, so the ladies can put it all out there and gun for a top-three spot without worrying about disappointing anyone, especially me,” Adler said.