By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Mato named inaugural USTFCCCA Athlete of the Year
spt cp bccwomenstrackmatonationals
Mato named inaugural USTFCCCA Athlete of the Year - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

The awards and accolades keep coming for Lydia Mato.

Fresh off wrapping up her track career at Barton Community College Mato was named the National Women’s Track Athlete of the Year by United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) for NJCAA Division I on Wednesday.

Mato was selected after winning three events at the NJCAA Outdoor Championships – all three by comfortable margins and one with a new championship record in Hutchinson.

Mato won the 10,000m, the 1500m and 5000m to complete a perfect 3-for-3 weekend. That gave her five gold medals in six events at the outdoor championships in her career.

Mato started the meet out by defending her 10,000m title with a Gowans Stadium record and new Barton school record time of 35:27.23 – a full 2 1/2 minutes ahead of the rest of the field.

Two days later she won the 1500m by seven seconds with a time of 4:33.84 to capture the gold in the only race she didn’t win her freshman season at Barton at the NJCAA Outdoor Championships.

Mato concluded her meet with a dominating performance in the 5000m as well. She lapped the field – as she did in the 10,000m – and won by an astonishing 1 1/2 minutes. Her winning time was 16:39.37 which broke her own school record and broke the stadium and NJCAA Championship record.

Mato also won four gold medals at the Indoor championships this season and three as a freshman to run her total national championships on the track to 12.

The Ghana native won the cross country championship in the fall and will return to Barton next fall with one year of cross country eligibility left.

The National Women’s Field Athlete of the Year went to Gleneve Grange of New Mexico Junior College who participated in four events with a win in the discus and a third in the shot put. The Nationals Women’s Coach of the Year went to South Plains College coach Chris Beene for guiding the Texans to their sixth NJCAA Outdoor title in seven years.

On the men’s side Harry Mulegna of Central Arizona won the Track Athlete of the Year with two national titles – winning the 1500m and 5000m. Michael Samuels of South Plains won the Field Athlete of the Year following his win in the decathlon and Beene earned the Men’s Coach of the Year for guiding South Plains to its ninth straight outdoor title.