Back-to-Back Champs

Back-to-Back Champs


Back-to-Back Champs


Lady T-Birds bring home another national 1st




RANDY SMITH/BULTER COMMUNITY COLLEGE PHOTO Teresha Jacobs, right, runs the anchor leg of the 4x800 for NMJC Thursday during the first day of the NJCAA Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championships in El Dorado, Kansas. NMJC won the 4x800 with a time of 9 minutes 6.76 seconds and also won its second consecutive national championshp.






Queue Queen's "We are the champions".


The New Mexico Junior College women's track and field team did it again Saturday. The Lady Thunderbirds won their second straight outdoor national championship and fourth straight track championship, counting the indoor season.


One year ago, the Lady Thunderbirds beat Barton Community College by 13.5 points for the title. This year, NMJC cleaned up, beating second-place Central Arizona by 41 points. NMJC scored 139 points while Central Arizona had just 98.


"That was a great meet. It went better that we expected," NMJC coach Keith Blackwill said. "We didn't even run the (1,600-meter relay). We were ahead and we didn't need it. We were far enough ahead and had put enough work in to that point that we didn't need to run it, so we just left it."


All 15 members of the Lady T-Birds track and field team who qualified for an event at the national championships scored points for the NMJC.


"Everybody – we took 15 girls – and 15 girls scored," Blackwill said. "That is the first time we have taken 15 girls to the national meet and everybody contributed. That to me, tells you what a team effort it was."


Heading into the national championship, Blackwill said his team needed to score points and needed to do so higher in the standings. Well, the Lady T-Birds did just that. The Lady T-Birds won four events, the 10,000-meter run, the 100 dash, the 3,200 relay and 400 relay. NMJC also picked up four second-place finishes (5,000 run, 3,000 steeplechase, 400 dash, and 1,500 run) and four third places (1,500 run, 200 dash, long jump, and triple jump).


"The distance group, coach (Jeff) Becker's girls ran very well," Blackwill said. "They scored a lot in the 10,000 and turned around and score a lot in the 1,500. They scored well in the 5,000. They did very well."


Esther Gitahi took first in the 10,000 with a time of 36 minutes, 19.25 seconds as well as joining Erin Sermons, Sharon Jerono, and Teresha Jacobs in winning the 3,200 relay. The foursome finished with a time of 9:06.76. Shian Hyde won the 100 (11.25 seconds) while Trishawna Crawford, Octavia Cato, Britney Hew, and Raheema Westfall teamed up to win the 400 relay (44.52).


"The (400 relay) ran very well. They have been running well all season. It was an easy win for them," Blackwill said. "Hyde, that is a personal best for her for 100 meters. It was very, very nice to see her run that well."


Gitahi placed second in the 5,000 with a time of 17:59.69 while Jacobs was fourth (18:35.85). Jacobs was second in the 3,000 steeplechase, finishing in 11:15.50. D'Jai Baker ran the 400 in 53.71 to take second while Sermons was fifth (54.85)


The Lady T-Birds took second, third, and fourth in the 1,500 run. Gitahi (4:43.04) was second while Jacobs (4:49.99) and Jerono (4:51.12) followed. Baker (23.32 seconds) was third in the 200 dash while Hyde (23.36) was fourth and Westfall (23.449) was sixth. Kristal Liburd was third in both, the long jump (5.95-meters), and the triple jump (12.73). Cathilee Mullings was fifth in the triple jump (12.63). Crawford finished fifth (11.25) in the 100 dash while Jerono was fifth in the 800 (2:15.10). Abbigale Butler was fifth in the heptathlon with 4,010 points.


Hew, Sermons, Westfall, and Baker placed sixth in the 1,600 relay (3:44.26). Cynthia Kipserem placed seventh in the 10,000 (40:06.27). Bristol O'Connor placed seventh in the hammer throw (45.71-meters) and eighth in the shot put (13.13).


Kipserem just missed scoring points for NMJC in the 5,000 as she ran an 18:59.63 to finish ninth. O'Connor was ninth in the discus with a throw (42.85 meters).


Next year, when the Lady T-Birds attempt to go for their third straight title, they will get to do it on their home track as NMJC will be hosting the 2019 NJCAA Track & Field National Championships.


"They are excited about that (possibility)," Blackwill said. "Anytime that we can uncomplicated things and make it easier for the team is really, really good. They basically won't have to sit out in the sun all day. They can sit in their room and make sure they are there at the times they need to be. They are really excited. Also they are excited about the fact that they will get to run in front of the home crowd, that is always a big bonus for us."