WHITTINGTON - The Cheruiyots carried Rend Lake College across the finish line of the National Junior College Athletic Association Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships Saturday at Rend Lake Golf Course.
RLC distance runners Ben Cheruiyot and Pasca Cheruiyot took the top spots in the men's and women's races - a first in RLC cross country history.
Throughout the course of the race, Pasca ran formidably, leading by lengths beyond her following competitors. She finished in 16:13, which was 14 seconds faster than repeating runner-up Lillian Badaru of South Plains Community College and much more than a minute better than Cheruiyot's first 5K time in this, her inaugural cross country season for the Lady Warriors.
Ben Cheruiyot was followed by teammates and fans down the stretch as he won by only a couple of feet ahead of the repeat runner-up, Daniel Maina of Cowley County Community College.
"It feels good," Cheruiyot simply stated after the race. "I have trained hard for this ... this is only the beginning."
Rend Lake's Elkanah Kibet came in second for RLC and fifth in the race after being outlegged at the finish by South Plains Community College's John Kosgei, despite Kibet beating Kosgei over the stretch of the 8K course.
RLC Warriors fell short of repeating as national champions after coming in fourth as a team. Combining with Cheruiyot and Kibet for the 133-point team score were Jeremy Whitaker in 35th, Henry Lee in a hard-earned 41st place and Sagar Patel in 51st. RLC freshman Bailey Bunyan was the sixth man for RLC, coming in 91st out of more than 220 runners.
Lansing Community College took top honors for the men's race, followed by Iowa Central CC and Central Arizona.
The Lady Warriors matched their ninth-place national ranking perfectly as RLC runners combined for a ninth-place team score of 251. Cheruiyot was joined by Kim Beardwood in 16th, Bethany Kirkpatrick in 35th, Nikki Walls in 43rd and Amanda Jourdan in 156th. RLC freshman Sarah Nolen came in 168th.
Iowa Central Community College took the national championships in the women's race, followed by Butler County CC and El Paso Community College.
It was the first time in RLC history that the college hosted a national athletics event. RLC will host the event again in 2012 and 2014 .
For complete race results, one may go online to (go to bottom of release for website) www.onlineraceresults.com/event/view_event.php?event_id=2289.