Cowley men’s cross country team brings home the national title; Lady Tigers place fourth

Greg Williams
Wellington Daily News
Cowley College men's track and field team wins national championship

Led by Adrian Diaz-Lopez and Amos Pkiach finishing as the individual national champion and the national runner-up, the Cowley College men’s cross country team brought home its first national title since 2010.

The Lady Tigers, the defending national champions, placed fourth at the NJCAA Division II National Championships held Saturday in Richmond, VA.

Diaz-Lopez took home first place with a time of 24:52.1, with Pkiach just behind with a time of 24:55.3. Diaz-Lopez was named the Men’s National Athlete of the Year and USTFCCCA Division II Central Region Male Cross Country Athlete of the Year.

Tigers men’s head coach Cameron Rieth was named USTFCCCA Division II Central Region Men’s Coach of the Year as well as the NJCAA Division II Men’s National Coach of the Year.

“The men were spearheaded by our one-two punch,” Rieth said. “They both ran a beautiful, tactical race to perfection. Going one and two at nationals was our goal from day one. I told them that I don’t care who wins but work together to be able to get this accomplished, and they executed it to perfection.”

Tiger freshman Santiago Nunez (26:04.6) also earned All-American honors with his 14th place finish, while Xoel Rodriguez-Abad garnered Coaches Association All-American honors for his 31st place finish.

“Santiago stepped up and contributed in a massive way this year,” Rieth said.

Other Tiger runners were, Joel Rodriguez (36th), Caleb Liermann (42nd), and Aidan Wells (65th). There were 221 competitors in the men’s race.

“A lot of hard work was put in by the entire men’s team and it was just fantastic to see it all put together on race day,” Rieth said. “We had an incredible group of guys this year, the majority of them sophomores. The same sophomores who even though we had a great year last fall, left the season with a little unfinished business with our third-place national finish. We believed we could do this last year but fell a little short and got beat by some good teams. So this year they were men on a mission, nothing was going to get in the way.”

The Tiger men finished 20 points better than second-place Daytona State College.

The Lady Tigers placed fourth as a team thanks to sophomore Karissa Glover placing sixth and earning All-American honors. Glover was named the USTFCCCA Division II Central Region Female Athlete of the Year.

“Our staple upfront this year was Karissa,” Rieth said. “Even though she had a little bit of a rocky mid-season, she really finished out on a high note.”

Fellow sophomore Delicia Boothe also ran well and garnered Coaches Association All-American honors for her 19th place finish.

“Going into the year, we had such big shoes to fill on the women’s side,” Rieth said. “We graduated 80 percent of our women’s national championship team from last year. After week one of the year, I was a little bit concerned about fitness levels but much to my surprise these girls really dug in and started making rapid improvements. If you would have asked me after week one of the season, never would I have thought we would be in third place and only 10 points out of second place as a team going into the last mile at the national championship meet. These girls battled and fought, but ran out of gas and faded to fourth over the last mile.”

Other Lady Tiger runners at the national meet were Kristen Wilson (33rd place), Abigail Pinnock (37th place), Yazmin Reyes (46th place), Ashley Goforth (54th place), and Layla Ingalls (145th place). There were a total of 198 runners in the meet.

The Lansing Stars took home the women’s team title as they finished 16 points better than runner-up Heartland Community College. North Iowa Area Community College’s Sarah Bertry won the women’s race with a time of 18:21.1.

Greg Williams has been the reporter for the Wellington Daily News and Butler County Times-Gazette since May 2021. You can reach him at GWilliams@gannett.com or on Twitter at @GregWilliams28.