By Dana Becker
The Iowa Central cross country program begins a big stretch for the team this Sunday as hosts of the Region XI Championships.
The event takes place from Lakeside Golf Course, which will also be home to the NJCAA Championships later in November.
Joining the Tritons will be all of the Div. I and Div. II programs. Indian Hills, Iowa Western, Scott and Southwestern attempt to take the crown from Iowa Central in Div. I with NIACC, Hawkeye, DMACC and Southeastern comprising Div. II.
On the men's side, the Tritons have won the last seven regional titles, with the women winning every regional championship dating back to 2004.
The women's race begins at noon with the men to follow at 1 p.m. The NJCAA Championships are set for November 14.
Runners to Watch:
Division I Men:
Kelvin Bungei, Iowa Central: Bungei has two wins on the season in different length races. Winning the Grand View Open with a 5K time of 15:17, and Morningside Open as an 8K. He set his PR in early October with a time of 24:32. With a strong Triton team running with him, the freshman looks to cap a strong season and help his team win extend their streak of team titles.
Yonas Migos, Iowa Western: Migos won the men's race at the Indian Hills Invite on Oct. 16. Achieving a PR of 24:37, he has only gotten stronger as the season has worn on. He looks to be a back-to-back winner and take home the individual title as well as help his Reivers at Iowa Western.
Pur Biel, Iowa Central: You can be fairly confident that you will see Pur Biel's name within the top 3 because that's the furthest down he has been on a leaderboard all season. With a PR of 24:18 coming earlier this year at the Briar Cliff Invite, the sophomore looks to see if he can break through individually and help Iowa Central win yet another team title.
Division II Men:
Melvin Kipkemboi, NIACC: Kipkemboi has been as dominant of a DII runner as one can be this year. His PR of 25:17 has put him in good positions in every race no matter the competition. NIACC's men have placed in the top 3 of the team standings at the Region XI tournament since its first running in 2004, and Kipkemboi is the leader of the Trojan team that is the favorite to win the first ever Division II regional championship.
Sam Mickelson, Hawkeye: Hawkeye's school record holder with a personal record of 25:25, Sam Mickelson has already proven himself at his own school but it's now time to do it at the regional level. With great success during the regular season that included stringing together three straight wins, he looks to continue his impressive running and propel the Redtails to a Division II championship.
Division I Women:
Faith Linga, Iowa Western: Faith has been the most dominant Division I runner in the region all year. Her PR of 16:41 would match the Region XI record if she can repeat the effort. She has won her last three meets she has competed in heading into the Championships. Her and her Iowa Western teammates are hoping to overthrow Iowa Central as the Region XI Champions in 2020.
Eleonora Curtabbi, Iowa Central: Curtabbi leads the way for the Triton with a PR of 17:07 she has not finished outside the top-2 in any race in the last six weeks. With the race being hosted by Iowa Central in Fort Dodge she has the potential home field advantage to break through for another victory and possibly be the individual champion.
Division II Women:
Sarah Bertry, NIACC: Another runner that is no stranger to the top of the leaderboard, the NIACC runner has not finished outside of the top-4 this season. She has the third fastest 5k in NIACC women's history and a PR 18:26. The Division II runners have had to go against Division I all season and Bertry has been able to hold her own and looks to do so once again come Nov. 1.
Ryann Portch, Hawkeye: Hawkeye's top female runner has been on a tear as of late. Three consecutive top-3 finishes going into the Region Championships. Portch's PR of 18:58 puts her in good position as she looks for another high finish next week.