Days of heavy rains in northcentral Texas had turned the Ranger College cross country course into a slippery, muddy trail on Saturday, Oct. 27, when teams lined up for the start of the 2018 Region V Cross Country Championships.
Despite what might have been the toughest 8-kilometers in the state, the Ranger College men's cross country runners turned in an impressive outing, racing to third in the final standings. The Rangers, who had four runners place in the top 15, scored 56 points in the meet. El Paso Community College finished atop the regional standings with 23 points. South Plains College was second with 43.
"I thought we could have raced with more intensity," said Ranger College cross country coach Kathy Graham. "We didn't run in as tight a pack as I would have liked, but I think we did well despite that. I think we can take what we learned here and use it to our advantage at the NJCAA National Cross Country Championships where we're trying for a top 10 finish."
Chris Larson almost helped Ranger, El Paso and South Plains sweep the top 15 spots in the race. Despite a trail that featured deep bogs and standing puddles of water, Larson raced to a 16th-place finish with a time of 29 minutes, 4.99 seconds. His time was just 10 seconds slower than Western Texas' Jesse Ortiz, who was the only runner not from Ranger, EPCC or South Plains to finish among the leaders.
Frenchman Loic Rossignaud and Jahlil Howard, a sophomore from Montgomery, Texas, paced the Rangers efforts. Rossignaud used a strong surge on the drier backside of the course to speed his way to a seventh-place finish in his rookie appearance in the regional meet. He sprinted across the finish line just two seconds behind South Plains' No. 2 runner Andrew Bosquez at 27:22.05.
Howard gave Ranger a 7-8 finish in the standings. He finished less than 30 yards behind Rossignaud, completing the course in a time of 27:26.34.
Rossignaud and Howard both earned all-region honors with their performances.
Daniel De La Cruz Flores and Troy Wiles were Ranger College's third and fourth-place finishers. De La Cruz Flores, a sophomore from Donna, Texas, sprinted his way to 12th in the overall standings by legging out a time of 28:29.22. Wiles, a sophomore from Dallas, was 13th at 28:38.19.
Freshman Edward Njunguna also turned in a solid outing. The Richmond, Texas, product finished 20th in the race standings with a time 29:28.64.
Fernando Teran, a sophomore from Donna, Texas, was 22nd at 30:00.19.
El Paso's Gideon Cheplak, part of a talented stable of African runners competing for the Diablos, raced to the Region V crown. He maneuvered his way through the course and posted a winning time of 25:50.30. EPCC teammate Elias Loriposia was second at 25:56.41.
As a team, El Paso claimed four of the top five spots in the race.