LEVELLAND — The South Plains College men's and women's cross country teams will begin their 2018 campaign Saturday in Snyder at the 2018 Western Texas College Open.
The women's 5k will get underway at 9 a.m., followed by the men's 8k at 9:45 a.m.
The Texans enter the year looking for their third consecutive Region V crown and will look to improve on a third-place national finish a year ago. Despite losing All-American Felix Kosgei, who moved on to run for Oklahoma State University, the Texans return several key pieces including sophomore Andrew Bosquez who earned All-American honors last season including a 13th place finish at the national meet in Iowa. The Texans will also look to sophomores Jessie Madrid, Filmon Beyene, and Erick Arambula who return for the orange and blue in 2018.
"Our men's team is very experienced, and we have eight guys who will run for us and only three are freshmen," South Plains head coach Erik Vance said. "We have five guys back off a team who finished third at the national meet, and to lose only one of our scorers from the national meet is nice to have. You know those guys know what they need to go do, and they know how to race and how to compete."
Finishing seventh a year ago at the national meet, the Lady Texans will showcase an entirely revamped roster in 2018. South Plains will look to replace three athletes who placed inside the top 25 at nationals, including Leslie Romero (4th), Seselia Dala (9th), and Poro Gahekave (22nd). With that, the Lady Texans welcome freshmen Dorcas Ewoi and Gladys Jemaiyo from the country of Kenya, two pieces that will play an instrumental role for the Lady Texans. South Plains will also have some homegrown talent on the roster this season in Nyia Sena, a freshman from Lubbock who graduated from Lubbock Cooper High School.
"Any time you have a bunch of freshmen come in, the first thing you have to do is get them to buy into what you're doing," South Plains assistant coach Frank Barker said. "We feel like what we're doing with them will make them better, stronger and faster. Once you get through that hurdle and they start believing in the program their work ethic changes. They're working extremely hard, and I think these girls are sold and are going to be really good."
Following Saturday's meet, South Plains will compete in Lubbock on Sept. 14 at the Texas Tech University Open, followed by a trip to New Mexico Junior College on Sept. 28.