Freshman Oberlin Rojas placed seventh and two Hutchinson Community College men’s runners were in the Top 12 as the 20th-ranked Blue Dragons finished ninth overall in a tough field at the Emporia State University Invitational on Friday at Jones Park.
Because of injuries, first-year head coach Rod Zook used an all-freshman lineup on Friday. HCC’s average time on the 8K course was 27 minutes, 56.76 seconds, which was just a shade higher than the team average at the Blue Dragon Invitational on Sept. 15, the only other 8K race the men have had this season.
Rojas was impressive as he not only broke 27 minutes for the first time this season, but went under 26 minutes, running a seventh-place time of 25:44.80. Rojas was the second-fastest junior college runner in the field.
Breaking 27 minutes was freshman John Murphy III, who finished 12th with a stellar time of 26:16.80.
Freshman Kevin Marks also posted a season’s-best time of 27:51.00 to finish 52nd.
Also running personal bests were Jesse Lyle, who was 117th with a time of 29:38.40, and Mario Perez, who was 133rd with a time of 30:12.80. Running nearly the identical time he did two weeks ago, Helam Hernandez finished 142nd in 30:59.20.
Fort Hays State dominated the men’s field in winning the team championship with 32 points. Park University was second with 133 and Johnson County was third with 171 points. Hutchinson finished ninth overall and was the second-highest junior college team with 272 points.
Cloud County’s George Gathuru was the individual winner with a time of 24:36.40.
The Blue Dragons will next compete at the McPherson College Invitational on October. 13. This is a change from the original schedule. HCC will not complete at the Fort Hays State Invitational on October. 6.
(HCC Sports Information)