Photo courtesy HutchCC Sports Information: Teagan Flanagan runs in the Red Devil Relays earlier this season in Iola. Flanagan finished fifth at the NJCAA Championships.
By Adam Kolb / Co-Sports Editor
The Hutchinson Community College cross country season came to an end on Saturday at the NJCAA Division 1 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Sophomore Teagan Flanagan finished the men’s season on a solid note, placing fifth individually, and helping the Blue Dragons earn a fifth-place finish.
Flanagan also received a spot as a first-team NJCAA All-American, becoming the 17th Blue Dragon in program history to achieve that. While he wanted to come home in first place, Flanagan said he was happy with his position.
“I think I put myself in a good position to do what I wanted to do,” Flanagan said. “I wound up getting fifth, which I’m OK with. All American was the goal.”
Freshman Louise Cocking also had a solid race. She finished fifth and aided the women’s team to a seventh-place finish.
Cocking would earn first-team NJCAA All-America honors as well, becoming the ninth runner in Blue Dragon women’s cross country history to achieve that, and the first since 2001.
“I didn’t know what to expect, because this is the biggest race I’ve done out here,” Cocking said. “But I am happy with my time. I got a personal best.”
To achieve a personal best already takes hard work, but running in inclement weather makes it even more difficult. The race-time temperature in Fort Dodge was a chilly 39 degrees, with a wind chill in the 20s at the start.
“It was really cold, but it’s just one of those things in cross country,” Cocking said. You’ve just got to deal with what you’ve got.”
For Blue Dragons coach Justin Riggs, he was pleased with the results.
“I was really happy,” Riggs said. “We finished where we were predicted to finish. We were good and did what we were expected to do.”
However, from a team perspective, there were some unexpected surprises that Riggs noticed. One of them was freshman Noel Hidalgo, who ran a personal best time, and highest team finish for the women’s team.
Meanwhile, on the men’s team, freshman Cameron Delaney was a pleasant surprise for Riggs. Delaney posted a personal record and earned All-American honors. Overall, it was a solid ending to the cross country season, after an unpredictable year.