MARYVILLE, Missouri — A 44-year old Northwest Missouri State University cross country record was broken this past weekend at the 8K Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Junior Jhordan Ccope from Huancoya, Peru, placed sixth with a time of 23:57.1, replacing John Wellerding’s previous record time of 24:13.2, which he held since 1975.

“It was great. I mean obviously it was unexpected. We were hoping that the team would run fast and they did, and obviously him breaking a school record was just an added bonus,” assistant coach Nick Gibson said.

“I have a great roommate who every day pushes me further. So, I achieved the goals and now it’s a focus more on the team,” Ccope said. “I help, I push every race to get a good position all over.”

Spain native and senior Karim Achengli and Augostine Lisoreng from Kenya also found themselves a spot in the record book. Achengli notched third with a time of 24:21.5, while Lisoreng climbed up to 12th all-time with a time of 24:38.7.

“For us going out and showing that we are one of the best teams in the country ... we haven’t ever been there before so it’s a new thing for the program itself,” Gibson added.

Meanwhile, the women’s cross country team competed in the 5K over the weekend. Keely Danielsen placed 45th with a time of 19:30.2, and Caroline Ross, Erinn Fitzgerald, Shayleigh James and Lauren Graham also placed for the Bearcats.

With recent illnesses impacting the team, the focus has shifted to taking time off in order to recover for the rest of the season.

“We all kind of just had some health stuff, and unfortunately they’re just things that happen in running. But with some downtime before conference, we’re really focusing in on taking care of our bodies, taking care of ourselves so that we can be back up there,” sophomore Caroline Ross from Cedar Falls, Iowa said.

Gibson added, “I think both teams are in a really good position right now. On the women’s side, I just think we need to get healthy and we can be a top-five team in the conference, which has been a goal of ours all season, and on the men’s side we just need to keep doing what we’re doing.”

Ccope added he believes the team will increase its standing for more important races down the line.

“Yeah absolutely, because I am in better shape and every day I’m working on my shape and building for that for nationals,” Ccope said.

“On the men’s side, try to bring home a conference title — that hasn’t been done in 47 years, which would be a huge accomplishment for these guys,” Gibson said. “It’s about keeping that mindset, that every race up until the championships are more of a workout, per se. ... We’re trying to get better so that come championship time we know exactly what to do, we know how to race and we know how to come out and win.”

Micaela Dea can be reached

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Micaela Dea is a sports reporter for News-Press NOW. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Growing up in San Diego, Micaela loves to travel, meet new people, and tell stories. Have a story idea? Don't hesitate to email!