Orange Beach, AL – Separated by just a combined 33 seconds, El Paso (TX) and Iowa Central, the last two NJCAA Women’s Half Marathon national champions, came down to the wire on Saturday. El Paso edged the Tritons by one point to claim its fifth national title in the event, an NJCAA record.
The two teams placed six of the top seven finishers at the Orange Beach Sportsplex, but it was El Paso who earned the trophy. El Paso was led by Everlyn Kemboi’s second place finish followed by teammates Francisca Jebor in fifth place and Faith Jemutai in sixth place for a low score of 13.
South Plains’ (TX) Gladys Jemaiyo was the overall top finisher to take home the individual national championship with a time of 1:21:16, winning the event by just 24 seconds over Kemboi. The two runners recently finished 1-2 in the NJCAA DI Women’s Cross Country Championship on Nov. 10 where Kemboi edged Jemaiyo by just 26 seconds.
- Kemboi’s time of 1:21:40 came just behind Jemaiyo, but helped El Paso break its tie with Iowa Central for most team championships.
- Iowa Central was led by Lilian Busienei’s third-place finish, followed by Marion Bartilol’s fourth-place finish and Florance Uwajen’s seventh-place finish.
- El Paso’s Jemutai edged Iowa Central’s Uwajen by 50 seconds for the closest team finish since 2016 where both El Paso and Iowa Central tied for the team title.
- Four of El Paso’s team titles have come since 2013.
- El Paso and Iowa Central, the two-time defending champions counting its tie in 2016, have combined for seven of the last eight NJCAA championships.
- Behind Jemaiyo’s impressive showing, South Plains came away with a third-place team finish with 26 points as Dorcus Ewoi placed ninth overall and Nyia Sena came in 16th overall.
- Pasco Hernando (FL) was led by Olivia D’Angelo’s 12th place finish to boast a respectable fourth-place team finish.
- Ranger (TX) placed two runners inside the top 20- Jessica Thomas and Catherine Lopez to round out the top five.
- El Paso’s 13 team points are the fourth best performance at the national championship, an NJCAA event since 2003.
- The top three individual finishers, and nine of the top 10 were freshmen.
- 40 student-athletes participated in the event while 10 total teams competed.
- The El Paso women were joined by their male counterparts to sweep the team titles on Saturday.