The Colorado Mountain College Eagles cross-country running team completed their season at the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division 1 Men’s and Women’s Cross-Country 2020 Championships. The team traveled to Iowa to compete against over 250 college runners during the Nov. 14 meet.

“What happened at Fort Dodge, Iowa, was heroic, inspirational and downright fun,” said Darren Brungardt, the Eagles’ head coach and an associate mathematics professor at Colorado Mountain College (CMC) Leadville.

The CMC men’s team entered the competition, hosted by Iowa Central Community College at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge, ranked 19th in their NJCAA division. The women’s team ranked 20th.

Following the nationals, the men improved their ranking to 13th place overall, and the women finished 15th overall.

In the men’s 8K, second-year runner Jason Macaluso from Vail (Battle Mountain High School) led CMC’s team. His time of 27:59.39 was his season best and earned him 56th overall, in the field of 150 runners. Luke Plummer (Seymour, Indiana) was CMC’s second overall finisher in 78th place, running a personal best time of 28:32.03. Finishing third for the men was second-year runner Jack Setser (Wichita, Kansas). His time of 28:37.99 was a one-minute personal record, putting him at 81st overall.

First-year runner Reese Fledderjohn (Grand Junction) finished with a one-minute PR of 28:50.80 in 85th place. CMC’s Adam Garcia (Dacono, Colorado) finished with 28:59.98. Garcia, a first-year runner, had nearly a 90-second PR, putting him in the 91st spot. First-year runner Autry Lomahongva (Kayenta, Arizona) finished with a time of 29:44.64 in 108th place. And first-year runner Skyler Winter (Peyton, Colorado) finished, with a PR of 30:46.84, in 123rd place.

Among the 104 runners in the women’s 5K, Colorado Mountain College’s five first-year runners were led by Kya Jackson (Cody, Wyoming), who ran a 22:36.49, putting her in 77th place. Madisen Johnson (Windsor, Colorado) ran a 20-second PR of 23:24.84 to finish 84th overall. Cami Trujillo (Pueblo) ran a 40-second PR of 24:11.68, finishing 89th overall. Anayeli Almanza (Olathe) finished with a time of 27:44.95, taking 99th place. Ember Penas (Seward, Nebraska) brought the women’s team home with a time of 28:30.44, in 100th place.

“This was only Ember’s second race of the season,” said Brungardt, “but her gutsy performance allowed the women to finish in the team scoring for only the second time in the program’s history.”

Now in its second year, CMC’s cross-country running team joins the college’s previous and current student-athletes who have participated in sports.

“This race will be the foundation for the team moving forward,” said Brungardt. “The college’s cross-country team and our Alpine ski team based in Steamboat Springs are our versions of football and basketball at other colleges and universities across the country.”

“We are so grateful for the support we had from the CMC community,” said Angela Dunn, CMC athletic director. “Nationals was a fantastic experience that I know our student-athletes will remember for the rest of their lives.”

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