The Ranger College men's distance track team had plenty to be proud about last week at the 41st Annual Aztec Open in San Diego, California. They enjoyed plenty of sun, sand … and success.
During the two-day meet, which was held March 21-22, sophomore Jahlil Howard narrowly missed qualifying for the 2019 NJCAA national track and field meet with an outstanding performance and the RC 4x400-meter relay team added its name to the program's history book.
"This meet included teams from all over the nation and the competition was fierce," said Ranger College head track coach Kathy Graham.
Howard turned in one of the more dominant outings by a small-college athlete this season in the men's 5,000-meter race. The Montgomery, Texas, native sprinted his way to a time of 15 minutes, 27.53 seconds and finished 11th in the race's final standings.
Howard's time, which is the ninth fastest among all NJCAA runners this season, was just 2 seconds off the automatic qualifying mark for the national meet.
While Howard moved close to a ticket to the national meet in Kansas in May, the RC 4x400-meter relay team legged out a spot among the RC program's all-time best. The foursome of Juan Luis Espinoza, Latham Magana, Edward Njunguna and Chris Larson shattered the Rangers' previous best in the event with a time of 3:32.65 and finished third in the race standings.
The time easily eclipsed the school's previous best of 3:35.57 which was set in 2017 by Daniel Rotich, Sydney Leverett, Joey Hernandez and Isaac Gafishi.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, a team from Southern California, won the Aztec Open 4x400-meter title with a time of 3:24.60. West Los Angeles College was second at 3:31.29.
Individually, Espinoza and Njunguna did well for RC. A freshman, Espinoza raced his way to eighth in the men's 3,000-meter race with a time of 11:5.21. Njunguna powered his way to 10th in the 800-meter race with a time of 2:00.78.
Larson was 13th in the men' 1,500 standings with a mark of 4:10.90. Magana was 12th in the high jump with a height of 5-8.
Luis Rios and Loic Rossignaud also performed well. Rios was 19th in the 400-meter dash at 53.41 seconds. Rossignaud was 34th in the 3,000-meter race at 9:22.13.
The RC men and women will return to action on April 6 at West Texas A&M in Canyon.