NIACC cross country teams aim for high finishes at nationals

"I just want to get better," Palmeter said after the NJCAA Region XI meet on Oct. 24 in Emmetsburg. "I want to get another PR at the end of the season."

The women's 5K race starts at 10 a.m. and the men's 8K race begins at 11 a.m. at the Shadow Hills Golf Course.

Palmeter led the NIACC women with a second-place finish at the regional meet in a school-record 5K time of 17 minutes, 51 seconds.

"I'd say a top three finish (for Palmeter) is within reach," NIACC coach Curtis Vais said. "She is focused, she is running well and is healthy."

Sophomore Nicolle Hewett placed eighth at the regional meet in a personal-best 20:16 as the NIACC women placed third in the team standings behind Iowa Central and Iowa Western.

Heading into the national meet, Iowa Central is ranked first, Iowa Western is ninth and NIACC is 14th.

At last year's national meet, the Lady Trojans placed 13th, which was their highest finish in school history. Palmeter placed sixth in a time of 18:32.3 becoming NIACC's first women's cross country all-American since Anna Buenneke earned the honors in 2010 and 2011.

Running for the Lady Trojans Saturday will be Palmeter, Hewett, Alyssa Cowan, Lattie Crozier, Leta Jaquis, Emmorie Stokka and Kalama Towarap.

"This is one of the most focused teams (men and women) that I've had here at NIACC," Vais said. "We had some minor travel issues on Thursday, but this team did not miss a beat. They were focused at practice (Friday morning). I feel good about it."

The NIACC men, who placed 15th at last year's national meet, enter the 2014 national meet ranked eighth after placing second at the NJCAA Region XI meet. Iowa Central is ranked second and Iowa Western is ranked 10th.

At regionals, the NIACC men were led by freshman Trey Simons, who placed fifth in the 8K race in 25:38. Sophomore Jaime Zarate was seventh in 25:54.

"Before the season, the men talked about a top 10, top five finish at nationals," Vais said. "It's going to take a full-team effort one through five to accomplish that. We know that the only meet that matters is (Saturday)."

The NIACC men will run Simons, Zarate, Imad Amenzou, Oryiane Espeut, Ricky Jeray, Colby Kraninger and Tyler Randall.

2014 NIACC WOMEN'S TOP 5K TIMES

Hannah Palmeter 17:51 (NJCAA Region XI meet)

Nicolle Hewett 20:16 (NJCAA Region XI meet)

Alyssa Cowan 20:38 (Luther College All-American meet)

Lattie Crozier 21:09 (NJCAA Region XI meet)

Kalama Towarup 21:31.7 (Luther College All-American meet)

2014 NIACC MEN'S TOP 8K TIMES

Trey Simons 25:24 (St. Ambrose Fighting Bee Invitational)

Jaime Zarate 25:52 (St. Ambrose Fighting Bee Invitational)

Imad Amenzou 26:10 (St. Ambrose Fighting Bee Invitational)

Tyler Randall 26:59 (St. Ambrose Fighting Bee Invitational)

Colby Kraninger 27:39 (twice).

NIACC's finishes at nationals

Men - 2004 (22nd), 2005 (11th), 2006 (12th), 2007 (21st), 2008 (13th), 2009 (11th), 2010 (14th), 2011 (4th), 2012 (5th), 2013 (15th).

Women - 2005 (20th), 2007 (28th), 2009 (20th), 2010 (14th), 2011 (15th), 2012 (24th), 2013 (13th).