September 25th, 2015, Hillsboro, KS:The Northwest Tech Mavericks men and woman continued their streak of top 10 finishes at the Tabor Invitational on Friday evening. It was unseasonably warm and very humid with no wind or breeze at all. But despite the conditions being dramatically different from usual running conditions, the Mavs powered through and not only had two top 10 finishes, but the men finished in 7th place of 9 complete teams.
Purity Jepleting (Freshman, MA, Kenya) was in about 10th place after the 1-mile loop through the woods but was complaining of a twisted ankle somewhere between the start and mile one. Although running very strong, it was doubtful whether she would continue. It was not a spectator friendly course for the women's race. One could not see anything for the remainder of mile two or the start of mile three, but somehow Jepleting found the courage and will to finish the race in 10th place and also run her career best with a new PR of 20:38.01. Her time was only a minute shy of first place and she was 30 seconds behind the top Region VI finisher from Hesston College. Once again, she has shown her mental and physical toughness. She is looking forward to the next several challenges that await her.
On the men's side of things, Jeffrey Lazo (Freshman, AT, Denver, CO) continued his top 10 finish streak with a new PR and school record of 28:17.47. Lazo followed his race and pace plan very closely and was able to conquer the course quite handily, making a late race challenge for 5th place. He was the first Region VI finisher.
Through the first loop Lazo, Ace Arteaga (Freshman, EL, Goodland, KS), and Danny Alvarado (Freshman, CGT, Cozad, NE) were in the top five heading into the woods. After the 1-mile they had spread out considerably. However, Lazo was still in the top 10 with Alvarado then Arteaga slightly behind. Jameslee Banning (Sophomore, EL, Burden, KS) was running faster than he did at this race last year but was hurting quite a bit due to a knee injury.
Lazo was in eighth place at about mile 3 1/2. At that point Jamall Theodile (Freshman, BT, New Iberia, LA) had pulled ahead of Arteaga and Alvarado. The top four men were all running very well at that point of the race. Banning continued to push his pace as much as his pain threshold would allow. Quitting or dropping out of a race is not in his nature. He works very hard for what he does and never quits.
Theodile finished in 35th place with a new PR of 30:15.37. This was a 34 second improvement over his previous best two weeks ago at Hutchinson. Alvarado finished in 48th place with a 31:12.99. This was a new PR by 2:25. An evening meet helped get everyone hydrated and plenty of energy. The next finisher for the Mavericks was Ace Arteaga in 49th place with a new PR of 31:17.35. This was an improvement of 1:36. Fresh legs and two weeks of intense practice paid big dividends for Arteaga. The final finisher for Northwest Tech was Banning whose gutsy performance sealed the team standings putting the Mavs in 7th place. While Banning's performance wasn't a PR, he was able to push through the pain he was experiencing to help out the team. This was the first time that Maverick Cross Country has beaten a team.
Friends University won the women's division with 25 points, followed by Sterling College with 88, Dodge City was 3rd with 107, Hesston College was 4th with 119, McPherson with 120, Avila University with 146, and Bethany College with 160. There were 73 finishers in the women's race.
McPherson College men won with 33 points, followed by Friends with 62, Sterling with 114, Dodge City with 120, Tabor with 149, Hesston with 152, Northwest Tech with 163, Panhandle State with 168, and Bethany with 212. There were 87 total male athletes.
The next challenge for the Mavericks is at Metro State University in Denver on Saturday, October 3rd. The woman will run a 6k and the men will run the 8k.