RANGER — Cross country teams from Jacksonville College battled a tough field, temperatures that were pushing 90 degrees, and a difficult course on Friday at the William Graham Ranger College Invitational.
Despite those factors, the Jaguars came in second place in the team standings and the JC ladies took third place.
Ranger tallied 33 points to take first place in the men's standings, followed by JC with 49 points, Angelo St. with 57 points and Southwestern Adventist, who amassed 100.
Ranger (16) also won the team title in the women's segment.
Cameron (56) was second, followed by JC (80) in third place.
With 93 points, Angelo St. ran fourth.
JC head cross country coach Kirby Shepherd said that he is encouraged by the men's showing.
“The men went toe-to-toe with a top JUCO team in the country, which is a good look for Nationals,” Shepherd said. “If they can stick around them at the National Meet they have a good shot to place higher than ever.
Shepherd also was pleased with the Lady Jags' performances.
“The women did a great job of pack running,” he said. “The gap between No.1 and No. 5 was only 1:13 seconds. When it comes to Nationals a gap that close is a recipe for success. “
JC Cross Country will run in the Little Rock Open, hosted by the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. Races are scheduled for late Saturday morning at War Memorial Park.
Shepherd is looking forward to weather that is more favorable for distance running, and is anxious to see how his runners handle competing against NCAA Division I athletes.
“We are happy to be able to race and look forward to going to Little Rock this weekend and racing NCAA schools,” he said. “We are hoping for some fast times and high placing. With temperatures hopefully dropping for good, we can start easing into our tapering for Nationals here in a couple weeks.”
JC had a trio of men to finish in the top 10, with all five Jags that figured into the team points coming in 18th or higher.
Isiah Garzon was the first Jag to cross the finish line. He traveled the 8K course in a time of 28:18 while finishing in third place in the individual standings.
Wesley Rogers took fifth place in a time of 28:54 and Javorius Garrett ended up 10th, posting a time of 29:27.
Brian Ramirez (14th, 29:44) and Randy Canady (18th, 30:29) also figured in to JC's team points.
The Jags' Jose Garza came in 20th (30:41) and Trevor Turner ran 24th (31:41), but were not included in the team points total.
Hugo Chavarria of Ranger was the race winner, stopping the clock on 27:53.
Natalie Mason was the first JC woman to finish the 5K. Mason was timed in 22:29 to take 16th.
In 19th place was Jaiyah Hodge, who posted a time of 23:16.
Vanessa Fernandez (23:19) and Fabiola Hernandez (23:20) came in 21st and 23rd, respectively.
Completing the top five for the Lady Jags was Brooklyn Allison (25th, 23:42).
Vanessa Gutierrez also ran for the Lady Jags. She was timed in 25:70 and wound up in 32nd place.
Ranger's Jessica Thomas-Billot recorded a winning time of 19:53.