Drew Wiles entered his final race as a member of the Ranger College men's cross country team on Nov. 17 with a simple goal: Do something memorable. The Dallas (Texas) product did just that.
And so did the rest of the RC team.
Wiles etched his name deep into the Ranger College record books by legging out the fastest time ever by an RC runner at the NJCAA Half Marathon race in Gulf Shores, Alabama. En route to writing his name into the books, he also helped the team post its fastest-ever half marathon time and led the Ranger College men to fourth in the final team standings.
"Drew had the race of the year," said Ranger College head coach Kathy Graham. "He went for it. He beat a guy even on the line to earn eighth. He had an awesome race."
The rest of the RC squad was just as impressive. As a team, the Rangers improved the school's all-time average in the race, lowering the standard to 1:12.53 per person. That mark is more than two minutes faster per runner than the previous year.
Wiles, who was also a member of the Rangers' team that placed fourth at the Half Marathon race a year ago, shattered the school's previous mark in the 13-mile race. Overall, he trimmed almost a full minute off the team's previous best by legging out a time of 1 hour, 11 minutes and 50 seconds. Teammate Jahlil had previously set the school's all-time mark in the race with a 10th-place run of 1:12.45 in 2017.
Prior to having the record broken in back-to-back years by Wiles and Howard, the fastest time posted by an RC runner came in 2015 when Nicholas Wittkopp finished 18th with a mark of 1:13.18.
Wiles and Howard more than proved their talent at the start of the grueling race. Both managed to break free from the main group of runners at the start and maintained a pace that left them running with the lead pack. They hang with the leaders through the first 10 miles of the race before the pack began breaking apart.
Wiles finished eighth overall, the highest-ever finish by an RC runner. He finished just 2 minutes, 39 seconds off the winning pace set by Region V rival Elias Loriposia of El Paso Community College. Loriposia finished at 1:09.10 – three seconds ahead of fellow EPCC freshman Dennis Kiptoo.
Howard finished 12th in the final race standings with a time of 1:13.16.
De La Cruz Flores and Teran also turned in outstanding efforts for the Rangers. The two sophomores joining Wiles and Howard in finishing in the top 20. De La Cruz Flores placed 14th at 1:13.34, while Teran was 18th at 1:16.06.
Freshman Loic Rossignaud rounded out Ranger's efforts by finishing 23rd at 1:17.37.
Graham said she was pleased with the team's overall effort in the Half Marathon race.
"This team is very talented and brought a good mental toughness to the race," she said.