There is little doubt about the legend of Lydia Mato. An NJCAA Championship her freshman year at Barton and a second place finish her sophomore season.
Now begins life after Mato.
For first year coach Javier Ceja it is more than life after Mato.
Gone are five of the seven runners that helped the Cougars to an 11th place finish at the NJCAA Championships. The only two returning runners are Great Bend sophomore Mariah Stein and Ohio sophomore Emilykate Hopson-Boyd. They finished fifth and seventh respectively for the Cougars at the NJCAA meet.
Replacing the departed runners is a small group. In fact, Barton will have only six runners to start the 2016 campaign.
“We have a small squad,” Coach Ceja said. “We have some new faces we are going to rely upon.”
Among those new faces will be Mirena Goncalves and Wilyeska Suarez. Goncalves and Suarez are both freshman from Caracas, Venezuela. Ceja expects those two to lead the way for the Cougars this fall.
Rounding out the team of six for the Cougars will be Wichita freshman Amira Del Muro and Oklahoma freshman Hannah Broadfoot.
With only six runners, there will be little room for error in the team-scoring portion of meets for the Cougars.
Despite the small numbers, Ceja hopes his team will be competitive at the Region VI meet.
“It’s hard to tell where we stack up against the rest of the region at this point,” Coach Ceja said. “But in the end it is our goal to be in the top three at the Region VI meet.”
Barton will get the season underway Friday when the Cougars travel to Hutchinson for the Terry Masterson Twilight at 8 pm. The event will be run at the Fun Valley Sports Complex.