SAN ANGELO, Texas — Eastern New Mexico University’s men ended Abilene Christian’s 20-year reign as Lone Star Conference cross country champions on Saturday, as Marv Albert might say, “with authority.”
Led by individual winner Isaiah Samoei, ENMU because the league’s first men’s cross country team champion not named ACU since 1990, placing six runners in the top 12 to finish with 28 points and a 40-point margin over the runnerup Wildcats.
The last team to win the title before Abilene Christian was Central Oklahoma in 1990. The Wildcats had won all but four of the LSC’s previous 29 team championships in the sport.
“The men had a great day,” first-year ENMU coach Mike Harney said. “I’ve held a few kids back to save their legs for conference, regionals and nationals. For some of them, this is only their third race of the season.”
Midwestern State captured its fourth consecutive women’s title, finishing with 43 points to 87 for runnerup West Texas A&M. ENMU was fifth with 111 points, just eight points out of third.
Samoei, a junior from Kenya and a junior college transfer, led after the first mile of the 10-kilometer race “and never looked back,” Harney said. He posted a time of 24 minutes, 25 seconds to finish 26 seconds ahead of runnerup Kiya Dandena of Texas A&M-Kingsville.
Senior Tallum Kipruto was third in 25 minutes even, while Harney noted that freshman Tyler Saiz of Albuquerque was the first American runner to cross the finish line, placing sixth in 25:28.
Senior Mohamed Noor was eighth, Hobbs junior Jacob Lozano placed 10th and Clovis sophomore Justin Netcher came in 12th. The top 15 runners earn all-conference honors.
All 10 Greyhounds were in the top 50 out of 76 runners.
Harney admitted he was a little surprise about having half of the top 12.
“That’s just a byproduct of hard work,” he said. “I sat down with the team last night and said, ‘Do you want to make history tomorrow?’”
He said the ACU team was quick to congratulate his squad.
“They were first-class in sportsmanship,” Harney said. “It was a special moment (after the race).”
Led by Brissia Montalvo’s winning 6K time of 21:40, Midwestern State cruised to the women’s team title.
ENMU was led by senior Nicky Reid, ninth in 22:32, and sophomore Adrienne Montoya, 13th in 22:47. Reid broke her own school 6K record.
“Nicky and Adrienne ran great,” Harney said. “Nicky was fourth (in a 4.5K race at the LSC meet) last year, but it was just really tough today.”
Reid and Montoya are the only returnees from last year for the Zias, and Harney said the team did well considering its overall inexperience at the college level.
ENMU squads travel to Wichita Falls, Texas for South Central Regional competition on Nov. 5, matching LSC runners against teams from the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and the Heartland Conference. The top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying squads advance to the NCAA Division II nationals on Nov. 19 at Spokane, Wash.