By Dana Becker
ANKENY - The Iowa Central cross country program opened the 2020 season with a clean sweep of both the team and individual titles here Saturday at the Grand View Open.
On the men's side, Kelvin Bungei led seven Tritons in the Top-14 as Iowa Central finished with 25 team points. North Iowa Area was second with 56 followed by Hawkeye, the host Vikings, William Penn and Southwestern.
Chloe Lenoir and Eleonora Curtabbi were within two seconds of each other for the women's title, with Lenoir just clipping her teammate. Iowa Central had seven in the Top-15, finishing with 24 team points.
Hawkeye was second with 58 followed by Grand View, NIACC and William Penn.
"It was very exciting and relieving to have our first meet of the year," said Dee Brown, Executive Director of Cross Country at Iowa Central. "After the canceling of our collegiate outdoor track and field season and most high school seniors losing their entire track and field seasons, these kids were just itching to put on a jersey and run against other teams.
"Our first meet of the year is always low-key for our athletes. We want to help them adjust to collegiate running and racing. We had a very precise game plan regarding how we would run this race, which truly was more of a workout for us. We told them where we wanted them to be through the first mile and who they should be with."
Bungei, who finished in 15:17, topped teammate Pur Biel, who was the runner-up in 15:58. Mohamed Mohamud finished sixth, Hunter Klimek seventh, Noah Friske ninth, Chris Leavrio 11th and Jonah Garcia 14th for the Tritons.
"It was great to be able to see our student-athletes compete as a part of a team," Iowa Central head coach Nick Ekel said. "We would like to thank Grand View for putting on the meet and for implementing COVID-19 mitigation protocols to help keep our student-athletes safe while allowing the opportunity to compete."
For the Tritons, all roads point to November and nationals. The women are three-time defending national champions and the school has 11 team titles overall. They will host the event at Lakeside Golf Course.
"We are blessed with some very hard workers this fall," Brown said. "Our plan is to make to November healthy and strong. If we can do that, we have a great opportunity to do something significant on our home course at Lakeside."