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Men’s Cross Country Adds Five to Team

15 April 2014

 The Pratt Community College men’s cross country team has added five more runners to the growing class of 2014.  Three are from Texas, as Coach Adler heeded the advice of Jay Johnson. 

“The first person I reached out to when I took this position was former Pratt coach Jay Johnson," said Adler. "He guided both men and women’s teams in 2001 to third place national finishes.  He told me, ‘You can win there, but you have to get to Texas.’  I’ve spent 15 days and traveled over 6,000 miles through Texas in the past month.  It’s starting to pay off.”    

Estaban Munguia, Alfredo Vega, and Branden Sandoval, pictured here, join the Pratt team from Mission High School in Texas. Andrew Zimmerman (Girard, Kan.) and Andrew Gillespie (Wichita, Kan.) bring the total to 10 men signed to run cross country for Pratt next fall.  The Pratt team has struggled to meet the minimum of  five runners over the past several years, so there’s a lot of optimism surrounding this class of runners.

Munguia comes in as the fastest distance recruit signed thus far, clocking a 16:01 5K time last fall.  His track times are also impressive running 4:34 and 9:55 in the 1600 and 3200 meter runs. Teammate Vega will not be far behind as he ran a 16:53 for the 5K last fall.  Vega really shined this spring when he ran a 4:36 (1600) and 1:58 (800).  Sandoval completes the trio of young men from Mission High School, running a personal best 17:20 for the 5K and 4:48 (1600) and 10:21 (3200) on the track. 

Pratt’s best distance runner of all time and PCC hall of fame athlete Hector Gandara is a graduate of Mission High School, and was part of Jay Johnson’s successful Pratt teams. 

“I’m truly appreciative of what Pratt did for me, and I would love for these boys to have this opportunity as I did," said Gandara when he heard the news that Pratt had signed three outstanding athletes from his former school.

Zimmerman was consistently in the front of the pack at races this past fall.  His personal best 17:04 5K time makes him a strong contender to be in Pratt’s top five next fall.  Gillespie comes from a strong running program under Coach Mike Pope at Wichita North High School.  His 1600 personal best of 5:04 is a good starting foundation for his collegiate career at Pratt.

"I’m thrilled to bring in athletes from a high school with a connection to Pratt’s glory days of distance running in the early 2000s," said Coach Adler on the runners from Mission. "They are the type of guys who won’t be satisfied running in the shadows of Hector: they are looking to leave their own mark on the Pratt program.

“With our poor performance over the past several years in cross country, it’s been tough getting Kansas runners to pick us over the other junior college programs in Kansas," Adler continued, referencing Zimmerman and Gillespie. "I consider Pratt fortunate to sign two very talented in-state athletes.  Zimmerman has been a front-runner for Girard and he’ll only continue to get better as he is surrounded by a group of talented distance runners.  Gillespie is full of potential and I’m really excited to see him develop over the next two years.”

For more information about the PCC track and field team, contact Adler at 620-450-2132 or daniela@prattcc.edu.