Men’s, women’s cross country teams make history at national championship

History was made for the JJC Wolves as both cross country teams came home winners after competing in the National Junior College Division III National Championship Meet in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on Nov. 14. 

The women’s team took their season’s long work and put it all on the line, finishing first and establishing a new standard for JJC women athletes. They scored 41 points to win the school’s first-ever women’s team national championship in any sport. 

Freshman Tiffany Lehman won her individual title after running a 5,000-meter race with a time of 20:10. It was the first individual title for a JJC student athlete since 1991 when Jennifer Karges won a national tennis title. 

On the men’s side, the Wolves finished as the runner-up, scoring 40 points behind Mineral Area Community College’s 18 points. It was the best finish for the JJC men’s program in school history.

“To say I’m proud of them is an understatement,” Head Coach Jeffery DeGraw said. “Words cannot describe how I feel about every single member of each team. This is something they will have for the rest of their lives.”

Lehmann added to the long collection of awards she has earned this season. She won the NJCAA DIII Runner of the Year and U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Association Central Region Women’s Athlete of the Year awards.

“Everyone on the team, both men and women, have been working hard and have been doing really well as a team,” Lehmann said. “Cross country is a team sport, not just about the individuals.”

Even coach DeGraw took home some extra hardware as he was awarded the NJCAA DIII Women’s Coach of the Meet and the USTFCCCA Central Region Women’s Coach of the Year honors.