HUTCHINSON — The NJCAA Region VI championship brought the next to last meet of the season for the Barton Community College men’s and women’s cross-country teams.
The men finished 12th at the meet, while the women ran just four competitors, one short of fielding a full team for the event. Now the squads will be off until the NJCAA championships run at Fort Dodge, Iowa, on Saturday, Nov. 9.
On the men’s side, Great Bend-native and Barton freshman Chon Chavez led the Cougars, placing 40th in the 114-runner field with a time of 28 minutes, 28 seconds over the 8K course.
Benard Keter of Cloud County won the race with a time of 25.20.6.
Edwin Serem of Bulter also broke the 26-minute mark with a time of 25:34.3.
Colby, ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA, won the event with a total of 35 points. The Trojans placed their five scoring runners in the Top 10, led by third-place finisher Michael Kinuthia.
Allen County, ranked No. 4 nationally, finished second with 73 points, while No. 9 Garden City finished third with 81 points. Highland, Hutchinson, Johnson County and Cowley followed — all of which are ranked in the Top 25 in a very competitive region.
“The men’s team needs to make a few adjustments before the national championships,” Barton head cross-country coach Parker Cowles said. “We’ve been successful at accelerating throughout the race, and for most of the guys today, their last mile was their fastest.
“What needs to change is the level of aggression. Now that we know how to race I want to see them execute earlier and go out a little faster.”
Tyler Lumpkin followed Chavez to the finish for Barton, placing 57th in a time of 29:22.3. Another freshman from Great Bend, Genesis Rose, was 79th for Barton, finishing in 30:46. Adam Kelsey ran a 31:59.4 and Larned freshman Zach Wilson ran 32:45.2 as the fifth Barton runner for its team score. Brady Holler rounded out the Barton runners with a time of 34:47.5.
The Lady Cougars ran only four runners during the meet. The Region VI title was won by Johnson County in a bit of an upset. Johnson finished with 53, followed by Butler with 67 and host Hutchinson with 71.
Hutchinson was the highest-ranked team in the region, ranked No. 9 in the NJCAA. Johnson is ranked 12th and Butler 14th. The 15th-ranked team, Dodge City, was fourth while Allen County, ranked 19th, finished fifth.
Barton’s Jenna Schroeder and Tabitha Kim both finished in the top half of the 88-runner event with Schroeder placing 26th overall with a time of 21:56.9 over the 5K race. Kim was 32nd in a time of 22:17.2. Danae McGee of Allen won the race in 19:38.0 — the only runner to break the 20-minute barrier.
“Jenna and Tabitha ran very well. They both put themselves right in the middle of the race and competed well,” Cowles said. “I could tell that they were both running on fumes for the final mile, but they stayed tough and found a way to compete through to the end, passing girls the whole way.”
Lahni Clifton and Kaycee Neirmeier finished back-to-back for the Lady Cougars, running a 25:26.1 and a 25:58.1.