The Barton Community College women's track and field team defended its KJCCC and Region VI indoor titles this past weekend at Pittsburg State University's Robert W. Plaster Center in Pittsburg, Kansas. Winning their third straight Jayhawk West Conference title, the Lady Cougars had five individual champions amongst its twenty-eight top-ten finishes to capture its 27th Region VI indoor title. Barton scored 177 points in the region to outdistance Coffeyville Community College's 104 and racked up 219 points to win the West title over Butler Community College's 184 earning Head Coach David Schenek the Coach of the Year award.
The Lady Cougars will return to Pittsburg in two weeks to wrap up the indoor season competing at the NJCAA National Championships to be held March 3-4.
"We had a good building effort by the women in preparation for the national championship meet," said Schenek. "The team really came together well and has us as coaches very excited to see what this team can do at Nationals."
One of the five titles came in the last event of the day as the 4x400m relay team shattered the Region VI indoor meet record by nearly four seconds. Sabrina Mason led off the tandem of Ayesha Champagnie, Asjah Wallace, and anchor Tia Steward as the Lady Cougars circled the oval in a program ninth best time of 3:43.63 to break their own meet record of 3:47:16 set last season.
Champagnie fell one point short of earning the most points of the meet, adding another title to her relay championship, a runner-up finish, a third, and a fourth place to finish with thirty-nine points. Setting a 60m hurdle personal best and ninth best school history time in the preliminaries at 8.53 to miss the meet record by .04, Champagnie was slightly slower in the finals crossing in 8.58 ahead of teammates Mahendra McWhite's 8.73 and Wallace's personal best 8.75. Champagnie began her big weekend on Friday, competing in simultaneous events finishing fourth in the long jump at 5.48m while challenging for the shot put title finishing runner-up with a 13.88m mark. Champagnie would soar a season best 1.66m in the high jump on Saturday but finished in the third spot losing in jumps to teammate Ed'Quisha Alvin.
Alvin, who along with Fiona Barnes competed for the first time in the five event Pentathlon, was slightly lower in the high jump at 1.64m but still finished second in the event as she did in the 800m in compiling 3361 points in the event. Barnes earned 2853 points for an eight place finish taking second in both the shot put and long jump.
"Ayesha does it all," said Schenek. "She has had a great spring leading to what should be another great Pentathlon performance at Nationals. Alvin and Barnes both competed in the Pent for the first time, taking on more events in two days than they are accustomed to, and still had great performances left for their jumping events."
Barnes led the Lady Cougars in the runway jumps earning thirteen points beginning with recouping from the day's Pentathllon events with a runner-up leap in the long jump in a personal best 5.54 effort, missing first by .02 of a meter. Like Alvin, they both recharged well for Saturday's events earning a fourth place in the triple jump with an 11.00m leap.
As Mason capped her day with the relay championship, the sophomore from Jamaica began it with the first of her three titles winning the 60m in a personal best 7.53 to narrowly edge out Florida freshman teammate Keosha Sanders' personal best 7.54. Mason would also lead a trio of Lady Cougars in the 200m taking the title in 24.32 while Wallace took the fourth spot in 24.99 with McWhite coming in fifth at 25.15. Chenelle Ricketts continued the Barton championship string of sprint events taking the 400m with a personal best effort of 55.22 for the third fastest time in the nation just ahead of Rian Robinson's season best 55.47 to unseat the defending champion. The Lady Cougars would also grab the fourth spot as Steward reset her personal best crossing the tape in 58.25. Robinson and Steward's times joined Ricketts in the nation's top eight clocking the seventh and eighth best time of the season.
"A real concentrated effort by the team," Schenek said. "Strong effort from all our sprinters with Mason winning two events earning thirty points for us, along with five other top five finishes."
Extending the oval to the 600m, Latoya Stewart set a new personal record in a photo finish runner-up placing at 1:34.43. Emilykate Hopson-Boyd gave the Lady Cougars two more points in the event coming in seventh at 1:42.16.
Mirena Goncalves led the distance runners fighting off a minor injury in a second place 5000m finish of 18:06.17 before bouncing back on Saturday clocking a personal best 5:19.75 to finish fourth the 1 mile run. Wilyeska Suarez crossed the line three spots back in Friday's 5000m with a personal best 19:05.02 before earning the third placing in Saturday's 3000m by again setting a new personal best time stopping the clock at 10:53.26. Suarez began her inaugural indoor championships anchoring the Distance Medley team to an eight place finish of 13:19.31 being joined by Mariah Stein, Tiara Williams, and Hopson-Boyd.
Although not scoring in the meet, freshman thrower Alexis James set new personal best marks with a 10.92m thirteenth place shot put throw on Friday before Saturday's 13.03m eleventh place finish in the weight throw.