FORT DODGE, Iowa — Hesston College cross country coach Gerry Sieber will head into retirement with a top 25 finish after the Hesston women placed 22nd out of 42 teams scoring Saturday at the National Junior College Athletic Association National Championships at the Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge.

The Larks finished seventh among the Kansas schools in competition.

Iowa Central Community College won the team title with 52 points, followed by Central Arizona at 135, Cowley at 175, Southern Idaho at 179 and Allen County at 204. There were a total of 60 schools represented.

Hesston scored 608 points.

Adva Cohen of Iowa Central was the individual champion, finishing the 5,000-meter course in 17:24.4. Sandra Szpott of Garden City was second in 17:43.9. Winnie Kibet of Colby was third in 17:54.8.

There were 311 runners in competition.

Hesston was led by Sam Trejo in 60th in 19:42.7, followed by Sierra Broce in 71st in 19:51.9, Sadie Winter in 155th in 20:51.4, Katelyn Kilmer in 166th in 21:01.4, Liz Miller in 227th in 22:10.1, Savannah Bontrager in 284th in 24:19.2 and Heather Schiefelbein in 289th in 24:38.1.

Hesston had a total time of 1 hour, 43 minutes, 38 seconds and an average time of 20:44, 20 seconds better than the team’s previous best of the season.

Three runners had lifetime personal bests at 5,000 meters.

“The biggest challenge the team had to deal with was little nagging injuries throughout the season,” Sieber said. “The only runner that did not frequent the athletic training room, as did all our male/female runners, was iron woman Kate Kilmer. Nate Bartel did yeoman work with all aspects of the rehabbing.

“Even at the national meet, several of the runners were not fully healthy. Another aspect of the injuries was that throughout the season most of the runners had to do some low impact cross training instead of run training, which had implications for their fitness level. Several paragraphs could be written to detail all of the specific injuries and consequent challenges.”

Broce sprained her ankle just days before the meet after what Sieber said was a “routine run on the sidewalk.” She ran a lifetime personal best.

“For this group of women to overcome these season-long challenges and to significantly elevate their performances and run as well as they did on a ‘big stage’ on a cold, windy, dreary and cloudy Saturday in Iowa, was absolutely a remarkable achievement,” Sieber said. “These were truly strong and committed women. They stayed the course.

“This outstanding athletic performance (memory) was a wonderful retirement present that I and these women will long cherish. Moments before the race started one of our runners showed me what was written on her wrist – ‘run 4 Gerry!’”

The meet caps a coaching career for Sieber that spans more than 30 years at Hesston, Bethel and Tabor, and included soccer, basketball, track and field and cross country. He has already been inducted into the NJCAA Soccer Hall of Fame.

NJCAA Championships


Lakeside GC,

Fort Dodge, Iowa

Team scores — Iowa Central CC 52, Central Arizona 135, Cowley County CC 175, Southern Idaho 179, Allen County CC 204, Colby CC 227, South Plains 288, Lansing CC 292, Vincennes 314, El Paso CC 326, Trinidad State JC 340, Iowa Western CC 371, Butler CC 394, Macomb CC 481, New Mexico JC 499, Mesa CC 506, Ranger 520, Hutchinson CC 521, Cuyahoga CC 529, Highland CC 532, Pima CC 543, Hesston 608, Monroe College 670, Pasco-Hernando State College 710, New Mexico Military Institute 727-3, Hawkeye CC 727-2, Garden City CC 747, Spartanburg Methodist 777, North Iowa Area CC 788, Muskegon 797, Mercer County CC 840, Johnson County CC 869, DuPage 870, Indian Hills CC 880, Northern Virginia CC 907, Essex CC 976, Harford CC 984, Southwestern CC 991, Lake County (CLC) 1,024, South Florida State College 1,120, Lincoln College 1,129, Des Moines Area 1,165.

Top 25 — 1. Adva Cohen, Iowa Central CC, 17:24.4; 2. Sandra Szpott, Garden City CC, 17:43.9; 3. Winnie Kibet, Colby CC, 17:54.8; 4. Leslie Romero, South Plains, 17:59.6; 5. Marion Bartilol, Iowa Central CC, 18:03.0; 6. Anais Da Silva, Vincennes, 18:10.9; 7. Shalet Mitei, El Paso CC, 18:11.8; 8. Shaylee Hill, Southern Idaho, 18:14.1; 9. Seselia Dala, South Plains, 18:16.7; 10. Esther Gitahi, New Mexico JC, 18:24.1; 11. Ashley Lindeman, Lansing CC, 18:32.0; 12. Toni Moore, Trinidad State JC, 18:35.1; 13. Aaliyah Regg Wajid, Iowa Central CC, 18:37.3; 14. Alliana Atencio, Central Arizona, 18:40.3; 15. Bailey Wall, Southern Idaho, 18:41.3; 16. Agnes Mansaray, Iowa Central CC, 18:47.7; 17. Abeba Sullivan, Iowa Central CC, 18:49.0; 18. Katherine Bruno, Pima CC, 18:50.7; 19. Abby Steinhauser, Allen County CC, 18:51.6; 20. Cynthia Kipserem, New Mexico JC, 18:52.3; 21. Nikesha Eagleman, Central Arizona, 18:53.1; 22. Poro Gahekave, South Plains, 18:54.1; 23. Charlene Brown, Gillette, 18:55.3; 24. Marta Lukijaniuk, Iowa Central CC, 18:58.1; 25. Shelby Morrison, Central Arizona, 18:58.3.

Hesston results — 60. Sam Trejo 19:42.7, 71. Sierra Broce 19:51.9, 155. Sadie Winter 20:51.4, 166. Katelyn Kilmer 21:01.4, 227. Liz Miller 22:10.1, 284. Savannah Bontrager 24:19.2, 289. Heather Schiefelbein 24:38.1.