FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 21, 2017
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Men’s team takes fourth in nation; individual runners and coach receive honors
The Gillette College cross-country teams and first-year head coach Sean Smith ended their 2017 season on a high note at the NJCAA Division I National Cross Country Championships in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The men’s team, with the minimum of five runners, finished fourth, the highest ranking in Gillette College cross-country program history. Three runners, two men and one woman, finished in the top 40, which won them All-American honors. Smith was also selected as the National Championship Coach of the Year following the meet.
For the men’s team, Ayrton Ledesma finished 20th in 25 minutes and 54.4 seconds. Lawson Sims finished just nine spots behind him in 29th with a time of 26:05.03. Both Ledesma and Sims were named All-Americans after the race. Jorge Garcia was 49th in 26:36.5, and Ashton Jones finished 52 in 26:40.7. The final runner to cross the finish line was Nathan Smith in 78th in 27:01.2. The team took fourth with 221 points, beating the fifth place team by just one point.
“We are so incredibly proud of our men’s team,” said Jenni Winters, Athletic Director. “With only five runners everyone’s points counted, so the fact that they were all able to stay healthy and running strong throughout the season to take fourth place, the highest finish in Gillette College cross-country history, is remarkable.”
The two women runners also had a great end to their season. Freshman Charlene Brown finished 23rd in 18:55.3, a personal best for the season. She also earned an All-American selection. Brown’s teammate, sophomore Ryan Isennock, was 42nd overall with a time of 19:25.8, missing All-American selection by just two places.
On being recognized as the National Championship Coach of the Year, Smith gave the credit to his team. “I told the team that I consider the plaque they gave me to be a 4th place trophy since they only gave trophies to the top three teams,” Smith said. “I am so proud of the hard work that these athletes put in all season and the belief they had in themselves that made these achievements possible. I’m looking forward to building on this momentum next season and hopefully adding 10 – 12 runners to both teams.”
Smith came to Gillette College in June from Chico State where he was assistant coach for three years. He holds a master’s degree in kinesiology from Chico State with an emphasis in biomechanics and strength conditioning.
The first home indoor track meet of the season for the Pronghorns is the Conglomerate Open on Saturday, February 3, 2018. For a full schedule and more information, visit www.gcpronghorns.com/cross-country/XCSchedule/.