Hounds dealing with weather in Division II nationals

Freedom New Mexico

Eastern New Mexico University cross country coach Mike Harney was walking around Spokane, Wash., on Thursday and said the sun was out with the temperature around 30 degrees.

For today’s NCAA Division II national cross country meet at Plantes Ferry Sports Complex, the forecast was for temps in the high 20s with a possibility of snow.

ENMU’s men, ranked eighth in Division II, qualified for the D-II nationals for the first time by winning the South Central Region meet on Nov. 5 at Wichita Falls, Texas.

Harney said everyone will have to adjust to the weather, including his squad.

“We had the one day in Portales where it snowed, and another day where we worked out at 6 a.m. and it was 27 degrees,” he said. “It ended up being a great workout.

“I know the tougher the conditions, the tougher we’re going to be.”

Junior Isaiah Samoei of Eldoret, Kenya, has been the Greyhounds’ top runner much of the latter part of the season. Harney said Samoei has a chance to finish in the top 10.

Senior Tallum Kipruto of Nairobi, Kenya, and Somalia-born Mohamed Noor of Lewiston, Maine, have also had strong campaigns. The other four runners are all New Mexicans — junior Jacob Lozano of Hobbs, freshman Tyler Saiz of Albuquerque and sophomores Justin Netcher of Clovis and Patrick Lueras of Los Lunas.

Adams State leads an array of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference teams into the meet. The Grizzlies, who have been ranked No. 1 since 2008 except for one week late this season, are seeking their fourth consecutive Division II title.

Harney is hoping for the best, but hasn’t set his goals inordinately high.

“I would be happy if we finish in the top 10,” he said, “and I would be ecstatic if we finish in the top five.”

So far, so good for the Hounds, who have won every team title this season except in the Oklahoma State Jamboree, where they competed against a number of Division I programs.

“Everything we’ve thrown at them, training-wise, they’ve handled,” Harney said.