Lydia Mato put her name in the record books Saturday at the NJCAA Cross Country National Championships. The Ghana native became the fifth Barton Community College women’s cross country runner to earn an individual national champion honor and the first since 1995.
Mato did it in style as she blew away the field at Shadow Hills Golf Course in Lubbock. Mato won by a staggering 24 second and finished a full minute ahead of the fourth place runner over the 5K course.
El Paso (Texas) Community College easily won the team event with 64 points followed by Central Arizona (110) and Iowa Central (126). The highest placing Region VI team was Butler Community College in 7th with 270. Dodge City (12th), Pratt (15th), and Hutchinson (16th) all finished in the Top 20. Barton took 27th overall.
Mato traversed the course in 17:05 well ahead of runner Viola Kebenei of Iowa Central. Kebenei and Mato had split a pair earlier head-to-head meeting but at the NJCAA Championships it was all Mato as Kebenei was well back at 17:29. The only other runner to best the 18-minute mark was Hannah Palmetere of North Iowa Area with a 17:51.
Mato joins Evette Turner (1995), Jancie Turner (1992), Mardrea Hyman (1991) and Ruth Hamilton (1990) as National Champions at Barton.
Mato won indoor track titles in the 5000m, 3000m and one mile run then added outdoor track titles in the 10,000m and 5000m during her freshman season on the track. This is her first season running cross country.
Great Bend freshman Kaitlynn Tuey finished up her freshman season for Barton with an 108th place finish and the second Barton runner to finish at the NJCAA meet. She ran a 20:19. Holly Pierce was 191st with a 21:39 as the freshman returned to her home state for the NJCAA Championships.
Smith Center freshman Trenna Cox ran a 22:37, Dodge City freshman Yazmin Rendon ran 23:19, and Bushton freshman Julee McAtee a 25:56 for the Cougars. That placed the three 225, 240, and 267 in the field of nearly 300 runners.