GCCC XC still strong

12/29/2012

By ADAM HOLT

By ADAM HOLT

aholt@gctelegram.com

In some ways, it was a down year for the Garden City Community College cross country teams. The Lady Broncbusters didn't qualify for the national meet. The men, who finished second in the nation in 2011, were eighth this year.

But that just shows the standard that the Broncbusters have established in the sport recently. The GCCC men finished in the top 10 nationally seven out of the last eight years, and were 13th in the lone season they didn't.

But the Busters' men finished third in the Region VI meet, their worst — if you want to call it that — performance since 2008, when they were fifth. In between, they claimed two Region VI titles and a runner-up finish.

Head coach Dan Delgao said there was some adversity for the squad to overcome throughout the season.

"We had people that left the team," Delgado said. "We had people that didn't make the team."

One of those individuals was Amos Bowen, who finished fifth at the 2011 NJCAA meet, helping the Busters to their runner-up finish. So 2012 was a mixed bag for Delgado. On one hand, adversity led to some different expectations. On the other, he was proud of his team for fighting through and claiming an eighth-place finish at nationals. Not quite the region crown, and potentially national title that might have been fought for, but a great amount of success nonetheless.

"The team that we had prior to the start of the season was in contention for those things," Delgado said. "Once the season got started, we were still in contention for those things. But as the season moved along, adversity crept up, and I think we handled it good. Could we have handled it better? And when I say we, myself, as a coaching staff, yes."

Even then, Delgado admitted that it would have been a tough fight to claim the region crown. Colby finished fourth at nationals, and was the Region VI champion. Allen County finished second in the region and got edged out by Garden City at nationals, finishing ninth.

"Those were the things that hurt, but looking at the way Colby performed in the region, and the way Allen County performed in the region, I would be a liar to say we still would have beat them," Delgado said. "I would be a liar. Now, could the spirit have carried over, and could we have won? Perhaps."

Delgado backtracked a bit after giving it more thought, and said the Busters would have prevailed: "See, I'm getting competitive now," he said with a smile.

But Delgado gave lots of credit to the coaching jobs done by Allen's Vince DeGrado and Colby's James Ortiz. And he praised the accomplishments of his sophomores.

Chris Zirkle finished 13th at the national meet, earning NJCAA All-America honors for the second time. He, along with Dillon Eckel, and Kelsea Geschwentner on the women's side, claimed all-Region VI honors.

"When they leave here, the sophomore class can say, 'I was a region champion, I was a western Jayhawk Conference champion, and I was No. 2 in the nation,'" Delgado said. "'As a sophomore, I kept the Garden City Community College program in the top 10.' And that's what's important."

And just as important as their accomplishments as athletes, Delgado said he's proud of the people he got to coach this year.

"I have been blessed with very, very, very good kids," he said. "When I say good kids, I'm talking good people; good students; probably gonna be pretty good parents, and husbands and wives someday. And I have been blessed with that."

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