By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
Eastern New Mexico University’s Felix Boit knows his work is cut out in Saturday’s NCAA Division II South Central Region cross country meet at Abilene, Texas.
The redshirt freshman from Kenya — a nephew of former ENMU track and cross country standout Mike Boit — is ENMU’s best chance at qualifying for national cross country competition later this month at Pomona, Calif.
The top two teams, plus the top two individuals not on those teams, advance to the nationals on Nov. 19. The 6,000-meter women’s race starts at 10 a.m. (MST) followed by the 10,000-meter men’s race at 11 a.m.
Boit ran a personal-best 26 minutes, 59.1 seconds over eight kilometers for 10th place in the Lone Star Conference meet on Oct. 22 at Weatherford, Okla. He knows he’ll need to improve on that to qualify.
“I’d like to be able to stay in the pack (early),” he said. “Otherwise, you end up wasting a lot of energy in the middle of the race trying to catch up.”
ENMU coach Joel McMullen said Boit is shooting for a 5:10-per-mile average. He said the two individual qualifiers last year were ninth and 11th overall.
“He thinks he can do it,” McMullen said. “If he can stay in the top 15, he’s got a good chance.”
Boit expects Angelo State’s Trent Joseph to be in contention for an individual berth, while East Central also has a number of candidates.
“I know Trent Joseph won’t be far from the pack,” Boit said. “He’s the person I want to be in contact with after the fourth mile.
“I really feel good. I’m in good shape, and I’m ready to take a shot at it.”
Abilene Christian, ranked fourth nationally and first in the region, is the men’s team favorite going in while Pittsburg State, Central Missouri State and Abilene Christian are the top contenders for the women.
Sophomore Jason Garcia, ENMU’s No. 2 runner, could also have a chance individually, McMullen said.
“Our goal when we started was to finish eighth in the regionals,” McMullen said. “If we do that, great. Actually, if we finish in the top 10, it would be great.”
The Zias’ top runners are freshman Stacy Salazar and Krista Monaghan and sophomore Joyce Doan. McMullen said Salazar is nursing shin splints and is questionable for the meet.
“There’s 24 or 25 women’s teams in our region, and I believe we should finish somewhere in the middle,” McMullen said.