Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Jalen Two Leggins runs his way to a 15th place finish to earn honorable mention All-Region honors at the National Junior College Athletic Association XI meet.

Crow Agency transplant earns All-Region cross-country honors

Jalen Two Leggins of Crow Agency was the lead runner for the Southwestern men’s cross-country team, who competed at the Region XI Championship on Sunday, Oct. 29 at the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The pressure was there and the Spartans delivered a solid performance, finishing that day tied for third with Hawkeye Community College at 92 team points.
Lakeside hosted the Iowa High School State Cross Country Championships just a day earlier, and it is the same course that will be the site for this year’s National Junior College Athletic Association Cross Country Championships.
Jalen, a sophomore, gave one of the Spartans’ honorable mention All-Region performances, finishing 15th with a time of 27:38.2. He was followed by Shane Breheny, a freshman from Greenfield, Iowa, finishing 17th at 27:42.9; Kevin Dietrich, a sophomore from Port Neches, Tex., finishing 22nd at 27:59.2; and Nathan Bradley, a freshman from State Center, Iowa finishing 25th at 28:10.4. Rounding out the scoring five, in 26th place, was Phoenix Shadden, a freshman from Atlantic, Iowa at 28:13.7.
Two years earlier, Jalen led Hardin High School’s boy’s cross-country team to a third place finish at the Class A state tournament, running his personal best time for a fourth place finish and qualifying for Montana’s All-State team.
According to his father Hubert Two Leggins, his son’s foray into college-level cross-country has allowed him to leave the Crow Reservation and see a wider world unavailable to many of those in his hometown. Jalen isn’t running for himself, Hubert remembers his son writing in an online post, but “for the youth.”
“That made us feel good,” said Hubert, who encouraged Jalen to focus on cross-country in the first place. He comes from a family of “really good runners,” according to his mother Billie Two Leggins, and continues to encourage younger siblings and his teammates to push further in the sport.
Southwestern’s men came into the day ranked as the No. 24 team in the NJCAA, and determined to prove they were deserving of that ranking. The Spartans knew it would be a steep hill to climb to finish at the top of the Region with Iowa Central CC (NJCAA No. 1) and Northern Iowa Community College (No. 12) leading the way. 
Finally, back at full strength, the Spartan women also came out ready to perform, collecting their first win over a full team this season beating Des Moines Area Community College by 34 points and finishing sixth in the nine-team region. 
The Spartan women were led by a season-best performance of 20:46.9 from Heather Jessen, a freshman from Baxter, Iowa. This was good enough for 16th place overall and an honorable mention All-Region selection.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with our teams; considering where we started the season, no one really expected us to finish where we did,” Southwestern Head Coach Trey Bruton said. “We worked our butts off every day, kept believing in the training, and stayed confident that we really did belong.
“It was a great day to be a Spartan.”
As a team, the Spartan men just narrowly missed getting second place in the region, losing to NIACC by only 18 points.
“We knew we had a shot at them and we gave it a good run, but ultimately fell just a little short,” Bruton said. “We learned a few things we need to change and focus on these next couple of weeks, but we’ll regroup and come back to surprise some people at the national meet. ”The Spartan men’s and women’s teams are off this week but return back to action for the season finale at the NJCAA Cross Country National Championships on Saturday, Nov. 11 in Fort Dodge, Iowa.