The EPCC women’s team proved once again they are one of the best programs in the united States by finishing second at the 16th annual NJCAA Half Marathon Championships in Topeka, KS on Nov. 18.
In the 16 years of the Half Marathon race, the women have been national champions four times, finished second on five occasions and have taken third three times.
Shalet Mitei earned All- American honors after finishing second in a 13.1- mile course.
The Tejanas have been especially dominant in recent years, finishing either first or second in the country for five consecutive seasons.
Iowa Central (Ft. Dodge) won the team crown with a total of nine points. EPCC wasn’t far behind with 20 points.
Pacing the Tejanas was Shalet Mitei, who finished second in the individual competition covering the 13.1-mile course in a time of 1 hour, 21 minutes and 27 seconds.
The second-place finish earned Mitei All-American honors.
Other EPCC finishers were Ocean Stevens, who finished eighth with a time of 1:27:27; Michelle Renteria (10th, 1:28:06); Celeste Zamarron (24th, 1:38:15) and Merri Valenzuela (39th, 1:50:40).
The EPCC men also had a good showing at the NJCAA Half Marathon Championships, with a fifth place finish.
The Tejanos runners accumulated 47 points. Iowa Central won the title with a perfect score of six points, followed by second-place South Plains College’s (Levelland, TX) 19 points.
Cloud County CC (Concordia, KS) was third with 38 points and Ranger College (Ranger, TX) finished fourth with 40 points.
The three-man EPCC teams was made up of Michael Kirwa, who finished ninth with a time of 1:11:57, Sammy Rono (20th, 1:15:09) and Michael Flores (23rd, 1:15:58).
A week earlier, both teams also competed in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Cross Country Championship in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Both the women’s and men’s teams had disappointing showings, finishing 10th and 19th in their respective races.
The Tejanas were once again paced by sophomore Shalet Mitei, who was named All-American after her seventh place finish.
Mitei finished with a time of 18:11.8. She was followed by EPCC teammates Ocean Stevens (26th, 19:20.6); Sholly Jeruto (63rd, 19:43.2); Amy Vidal (118th, 20:25.0); Samantha Martinez (137th, 20:42.9); Michelle Renteria (153rd, 20:50.6) and Evaline Cheptoo (204th, 21:46.9).
Just like in the Half Marathon championships, Iowa Central Community College won both the men’s (8K) and women’s (5K) titles.
The Tejanos were led by Michael Kirwa, who finished 23rd. Other EPCC finishers included Sammy Rono (70th, 26:54.5); Michael Flores (109th, 27:20.4); Boaz Kipemei (150th, 27:48.6); Adrian Morales (153rd, 27.50.7); Esteban Esquivel-Reyes (221st, 28:50.3) and Evan Gerdes (234th, 28:59.3).
Though both teams finished the national tournaments with impressive efforts, head coach Felix Hinojosa was more impressed with his teams’ achievements off the field.
“Most important is that they all excel academically,” he said. “I am happy how the team matured as the season progressed to the championship.”
Both EPCC cross country teams finished with better than a 3.0 grade point average (GPA). The women’s team had the second highest in the nation with a 3.70 GPA.