It’s been quite a season already for CCRI and former Cranston West distance runner Bobby Allen, and he added yet another accomplishment over the weekend.
Allen was one of four runners from the CCRI cross country team that traveled to Rend Lake College in Ina, Ill. to compete in the NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships on Saturday. He didn’t disappoint, finishing the challenging 8k course in fifth place in a time of 25:54.9. That performance earned him First-Team All-American honors, marking the first time that a CCRi cross country runner has ever accomplished that feat.
The individual champion was Stanley Kebenei from Iowa Central Community College, who finished in 25:02.6. He was followed by Tod Jackson from Central Arizona who finished in 25:45.5, Abbabiya Simbassa from Iowa Central who finished in 25:47.4 and George Gathura from Cloud County in 25.47.5.
Kebenei set a furious pace for the men's 8k race as he and Jackson immediately sprinted ahead of the entire field, setting a pace that few could sustain. Allen's race plan was not to go out quite as fast. Entering the final lap of the course Allen was in sixth place behind Darragh Rennicks from Cloud County CC, when he heard the call from head coach Gregg Cornell, who pointed to Rennicks and shouted “First-Team All-American” to Bobby to urge him on.
That's all Allen needed to hear, as he kicked it into another gear to pass Rennicks and finish in fifth. It was Allen's sixth All-American honor in six attempts and third Division I All-American honor during his CCRI running career.
CCRI, which competed at a Division III level in cross country up until this season, had its first ever First-Team All-American in Division I.
That was the latest in a string of accomplishments for Allen. Just last week, Allen won the district title at Stanely Park with a time of 25:11.46 on that 7k course. His time was the fastest by any JUCO runner at Stanely Park this year.
"We are very happy for Bobby,” Cornell said. “He ran a smart race, holding back and pacing himself well to finish in fifth place and earn First Team All-American honors."
As far as the team goes, neither the men or women were able to field a complete team (five runners), so they only earned individual placements and awards.
The two other runners on the men's side for CCRI also ran very well, led by David Palkovic (Middletown), who finished in 29:54.9 to place 201st and Marciano Brunette (Narragansett), who finished in 33:33.2, good for 277th place.
On the women's side, CCRI only had one runner: Olivia Emerick (Cranston), who finished the 5k course in 24:47.7 to finish in 279th place. The women's individual champion was Darroneshia Lott from South Plains CC who finished in 17:48.4.
The men’s team champion was Central Arizona College with 51 points. The women's team champion was Iowa Central CC with 40 points.
"All four CCRI runners ran very well against some of the best competition ever to compete at the NJCAA Championships since the sport split into divisions,” Cornell said. “With 286 male runners and 295 female runners this was also the largest NJCAA Cross Country Championship in over 22 years."