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NMJC Women Sweep NJCAA West Region Awards

5/16/2017 12:05:07 p.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

{Story by Jason Farmer, Hobbs News-Sun]

The New Mexico Junior College women’s track and field teams will be running in the NJCAA Outdoor National Championships this weekend. However, when the Lady Thunderbirds arrive at Gowans Stadium in Hutchinson, Kansas, they will be bringing some postseason hardware with them. Monday, NMJC swept the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association awards for the West Region.

The Lady Thunderbirds won the USTFCCCA West Region’s Track Athlete of the Year, Field Athlete of the Year, Coach of the Year, and Assistant Coach of the Year Awards.

The Track Athlete of the Year is Esther Gitahi who is ranked No. 1 in the steeplechase and No. 2 in the 1,500-meters and the 5,000-meters. Additionally. Gitahi is ranked No. 10 in the 800-meters.

During indoor season, Gitahi was an individual national champion in the one-mile run and the 3,000-meters. She took second in the 1,000-meters. Running in the distance medley relay, Gitahi was a part of another national championship. With 31.25 points, Gitahi had the second most points by any one individual for NMJC.

The Field Athlete of the Year award went to Latavia Coombs. She enters the national championships ranked No. 1 in the triple jump, No. 2 in the heptathlon, and No. 3 in the long jump. Coombs’ best jump in the triple jump is 13.56 meters while her long jump mark is 6.26 meters. In the heptathlon, she has 4,698 points.

During indoor season, Coombs won an individual national championship in the triple jump while finishing third in the long jump. Coombs scored 34 of the Lady T-Birds 121 team points at the indoor national championships. Keith Blackwill, the Lady T-Birds’ head coach, was named West Region Coach of the Year while his assistant Jeff Becker was named West Region Assistant Coach of the Year. Blackwill coached the Lady T-Birds to the school’s first non-shared team championship during the 2016/2017 indoor season. NMJC has also been first in the NJCAA national rankings since the second week of the outdoor season.

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