The 2020 regular season came to a completion yesterday at an unseasonably warm Council Farms Cross Country course. Georgia Military College hosted the NJCAA Region 17 Cross Country Championship. After a season of uncertainty, the Bulldogs kept their focus and came away with a Women's Championship and Men's Runner Up. Six were named to the All-Region Team, and Coach Rob Sherwood earned "Women's Coach of the Year."
The Bulldogs entered the women's race shorthanded as the teams #1 runner Nicquelette Fazekas (Dixon, IL), did not run due to an injury. The rest of the team picked up the slack, and the Bulldogs ran away with the team title. In a near repeat of the South Georgia State College Invitational results of the previous week, GMC took seven of the top eight spots.
The Conference runner of the year and champion of the race, Anna Ashe of Central Georgia Tech, ran a 21:29.43. Paige White (McCrae, GA) led the Bulldogs with a 2nd place finish. She was followed by Madison Nimmons (Lexington, GA), Treeaunna Whiting (San Antonio, TX), Vanessa Alvarez (Naples, FL), and Stephanie Trejo (Cape Coral, FL). White, Nimmons, Whiting, and Alvarez were also named to the All-Region team. This is the second consecutive NJCAA Region 17 Championship for the women's team. Their team score of 15 points is considered the perfect score in cross country and is quite rare. By finishing in the top 5, White, Nimmons, Whiting, and Alvarez were named to the All-Region team.
Coach Rob Sherwood commented, "I am so happy for these great women. They worked hard, juggled multiple responsibilities, and were successful in winning the conference title again. They are a great team to coach." Despite their inability to run due to injury, Fazekas and team captain Isabelle VanMeter (San Antonio, TX) were all leading the team's cheering. Speaking of these two Coach, Sherwood stated, "It was amazing to see these two women, wanting to be running, but unable to. They did all they could to encourage their teammates. Great examples of leadership."
The men's race would be a tough one, as both Central Georgia Tech and GMC had ran well all season. CGTC was the favorite as they are NJCAA D1 team and offer scholarships, but the Bulldogs wanted to give them a real test, and they gave it their all.
GMC was led by freshman Heath McDonald (Bogart, GA) as they have been all season. He ran a 29:01 to finish in 2nd place behind conference runner of the year, Luis Alvarado of Central Georgia Tech. Daniel Turnipseed (Blythwood, SC) had a great race, finishing in 29:55 and secured 3rd place. A CGTC runner was 4th, and at that point the score was tied. Central Georgia Tech then packed the next three runners in to have a total of 23 points. GMC countered with Jessie Booth (McDonough, GA), Jacob Cain (Brandon, FL), and Bo Meadors (Plymouth, IN) to round out their top 5. GMC secured 2nd place with a score of 33 points. McDonald and Turnipseed were named to the All-Region team. Speaking of this team, Coach Sherwood said, "These men have really put in the effort this year to get where they are. Although we fell short of our goal to win the region, we hope to do well in Iowa."
The NJCAA DIII National Championship will be held at Iowa Central in Fort Dodge, IA, on November 14.
Men's All-Region: Heath McDonald and Daniel Turnipseed
Women's All-Region: Paige White, Madison Nimmons, Treeaunna Whiting, Vanessa Alvarez
Rob Sherwood, Women's Coach of the Year