Capturing a team championship is always a thrill for any athlete, capturing two in one day is double the pleasure. On any normal championship day the excitement can reverberate throughout the day, the week, and in some cases will last a lifetime.
It wasn’t a national championship, a conference championship, or even a large nationally competitive meet, but for the Barton Community College cross country teams, Saturday’s Terry Masterson Invitational held at Hutchinson’s Westar/Prairie Ridge Park was a sort of milestone and perhaps something future memory will recall.
It was a dual championship Saturday where both the women and men’s teams surpassed the field to capture team titles. The Cougars saw individual champions in sophomores Lydia Mato and Sampson Laari continuing their dominance and rewriting Barton history. The day also gave a preview of what may come in hopes of a Region VI title and a run at a national championship, not to mention the exposure of depth and emergence of rising freshmen.
The Cougars were also privileged to run in a race renamed because of a local legend, transpiring from the “Romp at the Ridge” to being called the “Terry Masterson Invitational”. Running in a race named for a man who put the host Hutchinson Community College cross country teams in the national spotlight many times.
As the race began with Terry Masterson himself pulling the trigger to start the romp, the Cougars began the mission. The charge to send out a man to future endeavors on a high note and a sense of thank you for a job well done.
Three years ago Barton cross country was pretty much non-existent with the exception of handfuls of individuals dedicated to the sport and representing the Cougar uniform. Saturday, the Cougars were back on top capturing both a men’s and women’s meet title for the first time since 2002.
Team titles are just that, a collaborative effort of team members where each individual performs at a personal best for the betterment of the team. And behind each team is a leader, a coach, a mentor, and one who organizes a group of individuals to come together as one.
For the past three years the leader has been Parker Cowles and since his hire, the Barton cross country teams have been recruited, organized, trained, and led to experience the joys of what Saturday’s twin victory brought.
“If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” – Jimmy Valvano, 1993 ESPY Awards