11.10.12: Four runners from the CCRI cross country team traveled to Rend Lake College in Ina, IL to compete in the NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships on Saturday. This was the first year that CCRI competed at the Division I level after competing in Division III last year. Neither CCRI team was complete (five runners) so they only earned their individual placements and awards. On the men's side the team champion was: Central Arizona College with 51 points. On the women's side the team champion was Iowa Central CC with 40 points.
Leading the way for CCRI runners on the men's side was Bobby Allen (Cranston, RI) who finished the challenging 8k course at Rend Lake in fifth place in a time of 25 minutes 54.9 seconds to be the first CCRI cross country runner ever to earn First Team All-American honors. This was Allen's sixth All-American honor in six attempts and third Division I All-American honor during his CCRI running career. The two other runners on the men's side for CCRI also ran very well, led by David Palkovic (Middletown RI) who finished in 29:54.9 to place 201st and Marciano Brunette (Narragansett, RI) finished in 33:33.2 good for 277th place. The individual champion was Stanley Kebenei from Iowa Central Community College who finished in 25:02.6 followed by Tod Jackson from Central Arizona who finished in 25:45.5, Abbabiya Simbassa from Iowa Central who finished in 25:47.4, and George Gathura from Cloud County in 25.47.5.
Kebenei set a furious pace for the men's 8k race as him and Jackson immediately sprinted ahead of the entire field setting a pace which few could sustain. Allen's race plan was not to go out quite as fast yet still at a very fast pace. Entering the final lap of the 8k course Allen was in sixth place behind Darragh Rennicks from Cloud County CC when he heard the call from Head Gregg Coach Cornell who pointed to Rennicks and shouted to Bobby to urge him on "First team All-American" and that's all Allen needed to hear as he kicked it into another gear to pass Rennicks and and finish in fifth and earn his sixth First Team All-American honor and first for a CCRI in Division I Cross Country. Coach Cornell commented "We are very happy for Bobby. He ran a smart race, holding back and pacing himself well to finish in fifth place and earn First Team All-American honors."
On the women's side CCRI only had one runner: Olivia Emerick (Cranston, RI) who finished the 5k course in 24:47.7 to finish in 279th place. The women's individual champion was Darroneshia Lott from South Plains CC who finished in 17:48.4.
Coach Cornell added "All four CCRI runners ran very well against some of the best competition ever to compete at the NJCAA Championships since the sport split into divisions. With 286 male runners and 295 female runners this was also the largest NJCAA Cross Country Championship in over 22 years."
The Community College of Rhode Island, New England’s largest comprehensive community college, enrolls nearly 18,000 students in credit courses and thousands more in non-credit and job training classes. Its athletic program boasts 12 varsity programs and an academic support program for all student-athletes.