The Region VI Championships lived up to its billing. Several ranked teams battled it out for the region title while Barton standout Lydia Mato did her thing in winning the meet.
Mato won the women’s race for Barton as she obliterated the field, winning by more than a full minute. The freshman from Ghana dominated the women’s race, finishing the 5K event in a time of 17:33.8. That time easily bested runner-up Grasiela Navarro of Pratt as Navarro ran an 18:50.6 to place second. Flores Terra of Butler was the only other run to break 19 minutes taking third in 18:58.8.
“Lydia ran a great race,” Coach Cowles said. “She was patient and stayed with the pack through two miles before she let loose. Just in the last mile she put nearly 80 seconds on the second place finisher.
“I know she was the heavy favorite this past weekend but I believe she is starting to get a feel for winning races and approaching high level competition.”
The Region featured three teams in the NJCAA Top 10 and six in the Top 25. Butler, ranked No. 8, won the event with a team total of 55 followed by 7th ranked Dodge City with 84. Hutchinson, ranked 22nd, finished third with 99, just ahead of No. 9 Pratt, who finished fourth with 103. The Cougars took eighth at the meet with 187 points.
Following Mato for Barton was Great Bend freshman Kaitlynn Tuey. Tuey finished 19th overall at the meet with a time of 20:31.8. The top 20 finished earned Tuey all region honors.
“Our local Great Bend athlete, Kaitlynn Tuey, was terrific,” Coach Cowles said. “Her development throughout this season is a testament to her dedication to the sport and her desire to continue to get faster.”
It was a ways back for the next Cougar runner. Holly Pierce, Yazmin Rendon, and Trenna Cox grouped up for the Cougars to give them their team scoring total. Pierce, a freshman from Texas, took 56th in a time of 22:35.8. Rendon and Cox, also freshmen finished tied for 60th. Rendon, from Dodge City, and Cox, from Smith Center, both ran a 22:40.8.
“Our one through four runners on the women’s side are all freshmen, so this is a very young team who I have high expectations of in the future,” Coach Cowles said.
Rounding out the Barton runners were Lauren Samson and Julee McAtee – also both freshmen. Samson took 74th in a time of 23:44.2 while McAtee, from Bushton, took 85th in 25:19.4.
Next up for Barton will be the NJCAA national meet at Shadow Hills Golf Course in Lubbock, Texas. That meet will take place Nov. 8.
“Lydia needs to have the same focus in two weeks at nationals if she hopes to continue her string of individual championships,” Coach Cowles said.