Colorado Mountain College’s cross-country running team is back from two National Junior College Athletic Association meets – and scoring lots of “firsts” along the way.
In only its second season of collegiate competition, the team raced in Carr, Colorado, on Sept. 5, At their first race of the season, the CMC Eagles men won their first-ever meet in the young team’s history, while the CMC women’s team competed in their first-ever NJCAA race. On Sept. 12, the team headed to Central Wyoming College in Riverton, Wyoming, where 10 CMC student-athletes ran their fastest races ever, while three others ran their season best.
A first-ever win
While Leadville was experiencing an early cold snap at the beginning of September, CMC’s Eagles had just returned from northern Colorado after running in temperatures over 95 degrees.
“It was dry as a bleached bison skull on the plains,” said Darren Brungardt, the team’s head coach and an associate mathematics professor at CMC Leadville. “To say the race was difficult is an understatement.”
The men overcame the high temperatures to win their first-ever meet, competing against Central Wyoming College’s team. First-year runner Reese Fledderjohn won the 8K, followed by Jason Macaluso of Vail. CMC runners Luke Plummer, Skyler Winter and Dylan Dunbar finished fifth, ninth and 10th, respectively, giving the Eagles the overall team win.
The five-member women’s team was missing two CMC runners at the Carr meet, though first-year Eagle Kya Jackson finished fifth overall in the 5K, followed by Madisen Johnson and Anayeli Almanza.
Following the meet in Carr, the NJCAA ranked the CMC men’s team 10th in the nation. “Although this is way too early,” said Brungardt, “for racing in such extreme heat, and missing two of our male runners, this is exciting news.” The women will be ranked once the full team is competing.
Successes in Wyoming
The following weekend, the team traveled farther north to Riverton, Wyoming, competing against the College of Southern Idaho and Central Wyoming College. CSI swept the meet, winning both men’s and women’s races, though the Eagles’ Macaluso ran a strong 8K (28:36), placing him 10th place overall.
Second-year runner Jack Setser broke 30 minutes for the first time in his career, while first-year Eagle Autry Lomahongva finished with a 29:52, marking only the fourth time in CMC history that runner broke 30 minutes in the 8K.
The Eagle women hit their stride as well. Jackson stayed within striking distance of regional rival runners from Central Wyoming to have a season best race of 23:04 and 16th overall in the 5K. Johnson ran a nine-second PR finishing in a time of 23:41 and Cami Trujillo ran her first race of the season, finishing with a time of 26:54. Just behind her was Almanza with a two-minute PR of 27:09.
“There isn’t an ‘I’ in this group,” said Brungardt. “I only hear ‘we,’ ‘us’ and ‘family.’ I am having so much fun coaching them, and they are working extremely hard.”
The CMC runners also hosted a home meet in Leadville Sept. 26.