The Lady Broncos cross country runners are headed to the national championships Saturday, and while head coach Jan Olesinski knows there are runners in the mix that few can keep up with, he’s confident his girls could have a solid showing.
“It’s kind of hard, but they come here, they compete well and it’s good,” he said.
The Institute runners competed in five races that counted this fall — plus two scrimmages — with their biggest team finish at the University of the Southwest meet in Hobbs Oct. 19. Running on the Rockwind Golf Course trails, the Broncos took home first place as a team, led by Esther Boran in fifth place as an individual, with a time of 21:46.
The following week they traveled to Ranger, Texas, for the WJCAC Region V meet, where the team placed third against some of the toughest competition they’d seen all year, including the top two teams in the nation, No. 1 El Paso Community College and No. 2 South Plains College.
“Those teams have all the Kenyan runners. There are two races: all those girls, then everyone else,” laughed Olesinski.
But the Institute runners were near the top of that second group.
Boran, from Papua, New Guinea, again had the fastest time of all the Broncos, finishing 15th in 21:38.8. Tuna Tine, a freshman also from New Guinea, was hot on Boran’s heels, finishing 16th in 21:43.4. Kayla Sisneros, a sophomore from Roswell, was 21st in 22:21.9, followed by sophomore Anna Zimovjanova from Poland (24th, 22:44.3); Sierra Walker – a former member of the NMMI high school team – placed 25th (22:50.2); and freshman Jordan Wilson from Phoenix came in 30th at 23:36.6.
It was a solid finish, and Olesinski is looking for more good runs Saturday.
“I think all of them will have a good race if they come up and compete,” he said.
The National Championships are in Garden City, Kans., at the Buffalo Dunes Golf Course, with the women’s race set to kick things off at noon. Olesinski said the course is supposed to be hilly, and the weather just about right — between 55-60 degrees and sunny.
Especially for the sophomores — who hopefully will impress some of the DI and D-II coaches scouting the race — the race is the most important of the season.
“Because they are looking for college-level competitors, the NJCAA National Championship meet is the race a lot of four-year college coaches are going to be watching; because of that, they have to perform,” Olesinski said.
Expressing his disappointment that NMMI no longer offers women’s track, the coach said his girls would have better chances to be recruited if they could show their running skills in both sports. Because except for Sisneros, who Olesinski thinks is a true XC runner, and Zimovjanova, who also competes in the pentathlon, the rest of his team are probably more suited to the long-distance track events.
Coach ‘O’ doesn’t have any special preparations for this week of practice prior to Saturday’s main event, just some sound advice from the former Olympic medalist:
“We need to go out and compete. Just go out and run. Do your best and finish tired. Finish the race like, ‘I did my best. I couldn’t do anything else.’”