EPCC’s men’s and women’s cross-country teams finished off the season strong at the National Junior College Athletic Association Half Marathon Championship.
Once again, the Tejanos proved to be the best in the country as they won the half marathon title for the second consecutive time on Nov. 23.
Rebeca Alvidrez / Tejano Tribune
The female runners starting the NCJAA half-marathon
race at Ascarate Park on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Four of the Tejanos placed in the top five at the event. The Tejanas won second at the same championships.
Gideon Cheplak led the men as he finished second, with a time of 1:06:58.
He was followed by Dennis Kiptoo (3rd, 1:07:21), Elias Loriposia (4th, 1:08:35) and Bradley Makuvire (5th, 1:09:04).
“The race was good,” said Cheplak.
Though he did not think the two weeks off between the cross-country nationals and half marathon helped the team.
“Since we came from cross-country nationals, we came and prepared for a week and for the last week we just relaxed, and I am not sure that everybody was in good condition.”
The team did train well before the Marathon though.
“I think we have been doing good long runs because of our coach and doing a lot of speed walks, that’s why we did good today,” he added.
Though Cheplak didn’t finish where he hoped, he thought he did well.
“I was expecting to do 65 (minutes) but I did good, I ran 67.” On the women’s side, three of the Tejanas placed in the top ten.
Everlyn Kemboi finished second with a time of 1:20:29. She was followed by Francisca Jebor (7th, 1:25:05) and Faith Jemutai (9th, 1:26:08).
“Overall it was great,” said Kemboi. “But it was tough, because when you start the race it was very fast.
At 4 kilometers (about 2.5 miles) I relaxed and still stayed fighting.
At 8 miles I was too tired, but I tried my best. Finally, I finished number 2.”
Kemboi believes she ran her to her fullest.
“Last year I ran like 1:21, this year I improved by one minute, which was great.
“I want to thank my coaches and want to thank EPCC for bringing me here and giving me the opportunity to come here because it’s not easy to come all the way from Africa. I really thank El Paso so much.”
Coach Felix Hinojosa was proud of his teams’ efforts and sees geed things for them in the future.
“I think they did well and ran to their potential,” he said.
“We’re excited that we’re going to have some people graduating in December.
We’re excited that we’re going to have a lot of people graduate in May and this race adds a lot to their resume for universities.
“We’re being recruited very heavily by some very good schools.
It makes me feel good that they are getting a better opportunity to better their lives through education.”Hinojosa thought those El Pasoans who chipped in, really helped the event run smoothly.
“I thought the volunteers were awesome, I’ve never been to a race were there were more volunteers than there were racers.”