Local Sports Journal

Muskegon Community College teams came away with one individual All-America runner Saturday in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 cross country national championship meets.

The MCC freshman Deanna Near, of Montague, earned All-American honors by finishing 17th with a time of 18:34 for the 5K distance.

“Deanna ran her best race of the season at the right time,” said MCC coach Dan Fishel. “She ran aggressively and was not afraid to mix it up with some of the foreign runners in the race.

Deanna Near

Deanna Near

“At the national meet there are many foreign runners that run for American colleges, so they award top American-born finishers with an All-American award. This cut-off is usually 40th place for the top 25 Americans.”

Near led MCC’s  women’s team to a 14th place finish in the meet. It marked the team’s third trip in a row to the nationals and the highest finish yet by a MCC women’s team, which started competing in 2010.

Also scoring points for MCC were Andrea Lavigne, of Mason County Central, who came in 69th; Samantha Eely, of Oakridge, 94th; Marlee Harris, of Buckley, 95th; and Raquel Zavala, of Muskegon, 127th in the field of 274 runners.

Lavigne had a 19:55 clocking while Eely, Harris and Zavala all ran personal bests in the race.

“The women ran their best team race in school history and broke their top 1-5 team time total by three minutes when they ran a 1:40:24,” Fishel said.

El Paso Community College, of Texas, won the women’s team title with 64 points while Lansing Community College came in fourth with 145 points. Lansing had three runners finish in the top eight. The field included five-member teams from 36 colleges around the country.

In the men’s national meet, MCC finished 27th out of 33 teams. Former Mona Shores runner Jacob Baker had the best finish when he came in 54th in 26:45 for the 8K distance.

Colin Duca, also from Mona Shores, came in 162nd; Austin Persoon, from Mason County Central, 172nd; Dylan Medendorp, of Whitehall; 181st; and Dominic Flores, of Fruitport, 183rd in the field of 256 runners.

The Jayhawk men have qualified for the nationals five years in a row since bringing back the men’s cross country program in 2010.

Iowa Central Community College won the team title with 62 points.

“The guys just missed their goal of finishing in the top 25,” Fishel said. “We have a young team, and the future looks bright.”