Freshman Brian Odom was the first Sandhills Community College runner to cross the finish line at Saturday's NJCAA Division III Cross Country Championship held at Stanley Park in Westfield, MA.
The product of South View High School took 70th place in the field of 200 runners. Overall, the Flyers finished in 17th place among the 28 teams.
Edwin Kipainoi of St. Charles (MO) was the individual winner with a time of 26:30.96. That was about two seconds faster than the winning time by Daniel Taylor a year ago that helped the Flyers finish in second place behind Harper (IL).
Mineral Area College (MO) won the team title, ending the eight-year reign of Harper.
Odom (29:48.01), Luke Tillis, 83rd (30:19.58), Luke Owen, 84th (30:22. 02), Cristian Sanchez, 134th (32:20.81) and Hayden Lynch, 145th (32:55.05) all posted faster times in the 8K race than they did while helping the Flyers capture the Region 10 Championship a week earlier.
Also accompanying the Flyer runners and Coach Tim Nocton on the 1,500 mile round trip, but not competing in the women's race, were Hannah Canady and Brianna Spencer of the Sandhills women's team.
"I think everybody was really up for this event," Nocton said on Monday. "They had fun with each other, but they had a purpose and they were focused and ready to roll. Teams from all over the country were there. They got the experience of competing in a big time tournament.
"While we weren't as strong as the previous two teams we had, they were very appreciative of the opportunity to go. We finished around the middle of the pack so we showed we belonged."
Odom enjoyed getting his first look at New York City during the trip. He cut about three minutes off his time at the Region 10 meet in Spartanburg, SC when he was plagued by blisters on both feet.
"It was 30 seconds off my best time," he said on Monday at The Dempsey Student Center. "I want to finish my two years here because I really like Coach Moody (Assistant Coach Jef) and what he's done for me. Next year I'd like to make All-American."
Lynch, a graduate of Queen's Grant High School in Charlotte, also feels he has benefited from Moody's tutelage.
"The one thing Coach Moody has stressed is closing out my race," he said. "I didn't close out strong at the regional, but I finished a lot stronger at nationals and that was a big key for me.
"It was a great trip overall. We really bonded as a team."
Following the state high school meet this Saturday, recruiting will begin in earnest.
"We'll be recruiting and signing kids as soon as possible," Nocton says. "Sandhills has so much to offer. Cross country is just part of the package. It's a place to get a good education at a good price. We've got beautiful facilities and a great person to train the team in Coach Moody.
"They were all talking on the way back about fielding a full women's team again next year and being competitive. We want to be in the top 10 for both the men and the women."