The Barton Community College track and field teams headed south for the weekend to compete against the best of the best in the 91st Annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays hosted by the University of Texas in Austin while the jumping crew participated in the nearby Texas Bobcat Invitational held in San Marcos.
The Cougar squads came away with multiple program Top-10 and personal bests in the three day weekend, headlined on the short track by the performance of sophomore Christian Lyon. In front of over 20,000 athletes and spectators, the Liberty University signee set lane two on fire for a wind aided 10.00 clocking to become the first Cougar since Ronnie Lloyd's title in 1990 and the first junior college athlete since 1992 to win the university division of the meet. Lyon's time also inked the storied Barton program's third best 100m time to rank behind Erick Wilson's 9.93 (2003) and Steve Mullings' 9.96 (2004).
"It feels phenomenal," said Lyon when interviewed post-race by University of Texas Athletics officials. "I just went out there with confidence. I was honestly just trusting my coach and training and just went after it. I wasn't worried about who was to my right and left, I was just confident and stayed humble and believed in myself."
Lyon qualified in the Saturday's final in clocking a then-personal best 10.27. Samson Colebrooke also timed a personal best with a 10.41 time to finish 15th while Demetri Keaton and Dartez Hamlin ran their first 100m outdoor in placing 24th (10.45) and 38th (10.55) respectively.
In addition to the speedsters on the short flat track, Charlie Forbes also went toe-to-toe with the big boys in the 110m hurdles. Clocking a 14.03 in Friday's prelim, the Alabama freshman finished third place in a NJCAA best and program eight best time of 13.62. Stephon Torrence placed 35th in the event in 14.55.
The Lady Cougars' Mahendra McWhite and Olivian Jackson also had solid NJCAA top-five performances in the 100m hurdles as McWhite place 41st in 14.08 while Jackson clocked a personal best 14.71 in placing 65th.
On the women's side, the Lady Cougars' performances were highlighted by Latavia Maines' runner-up mark in Friday's section B of the shot put. Fouling on the first two attempts, the Illinois freshman uncorked a personal best 15.22m (49-11.25) to rank as not on the NJCAA second best throw of the year, but dot the surface with a program fifth best distance.
Already the Barton record holder in the Shot Put (Section A) - Sanjae Lawrence recorded a season best 18.04m (59-02.75) to place fifth in Section A with the third best mark in school history while Kevin Nedrick placed 14th with a personal best 16.50m (54-01.75). Nedrick also set a new personal best in the discus with a program top-20 mark of 49.41m (162-1) in placing 10th.
Sophomore standout Enrique Martinez, who already owns the third best hammer throw in school history, also had a solid day in uncorking his second best collegiate effort of 57.01m (187-0) to hit the sixth best school mark in placing 14th in the event.
Four of Barton's five long jumpers headed to nearby San Marcos and came away with four top five finishes in the Texas State Bobcat Invitational. Leading the entries was the Lady Cougars' Fiona Barnes whose personal best 6.00m (19-8.75) took the title by less than two inches as Amanda Carty unleashed a personal best 5.98m (19-07.50) for the runner-up. Both marks are currently good for the third and fifth best nationally.
On the men's side in San Marcos, two Cougars competed in the event for the first time as Travis Hugg took third place with a leap of 7.26m (23-10.00) while Alvin McCray came away with fifth place less than three inches shorter at 7.20m (23-07.50).
Back at the Texas Relays, Bradley Fleurinord finished in 13th place in the B Section with a leap of 6.54m (21-05.50).
Previous to his 100m accomplishment, Lyon got warmed up and was joined by a trio of teammates in the 4x100m relay in taking third in the Invitational section. With Keaton beginning the race, Lyon took the baton in delivering to Colebrooke whose third leg gave way to Hamlin who crossed the tape in a NJCAA second best time of 40.16. The tandem recorded a 40.35 in Friday's morning action to finish 12th in the University division before improving with Saturday's performance.
In the 4x400m Relay events, the men's squad of Hugg, Hilton McClain, Jr., Williams, and Reyes recorded the NJCAA seventh best time of the season with a 3:13.59 to finish 21st. The women's squad of Nijah Roberson, Cadeebra Calcote, Jackson, and Azan Sargusingh also put together a national top-eight time with a 28th placing 3:50.36.
Barton will be traveling back to Texas for its next meet, competing Friday and Saturday, April 6-7, in the West Texas A&M Classic and Multis held in Canyon, Texas.