NMJC women’s track squad wins national championship again

NMJC women’s track squad wins national championship again


March 6, 2018


For the second straight year, the New Mexico Junior College women's indoor track and field team are national champions.


"Personally, I think that says something about where we are at with our program," NMJC coach Keith Blackwill said. "I think you do it one time and everybody say, well they are pretty good. But you go back-to-back and every is think man, they are really good and they are going to keep going."


One year ago, the Lady Thunderbirds beat out Iowa Central by five points for the title while South Plains College finished third, 48 points back. This season, the Lady T-Birds had virtually the same score, recording 120 points, in winning the title. However, Iowa Central, which went into Nationals as the No. 1 team, scored only 89 points and finished third. South Plains was second with 90 points.


Esther Gitahi led the Lady T-Birds, recording 28 points. Kristal Liburd accounted for 18 points and Shian Hyde scored 16. By winning an event, all three earned individual national championships.


As for the rest of the Lady T-Birds, Erin Sermons added 11.5 points while D'Jai Baker was responsible for another 9.5points and Teresha Jacobs scored nine. Sharon Jerono scored seven while Raheema Westfall had 4.5 and Cathilee Mullings had four. Akor Maywin, Britney Hew, Priscille Guerin, Bristol O'Connor, and Abbigale Butler also scored points for the Lady T-Birds.


Gitahi won the mile run for the second straight year as well as finishing second in the 1,000-meter and 3,000-meter runs.


"She ran a great race," Blackwill said. "She did really well and was a national champion."


Liburd won the long jump and finished second in the triple jump while Hyde won the 200-meter dash. Liburd and Hyde also set school records in their wins. Liburd's jump of 20-feet, 4.5 inches breaking her own school record. Hyde's time of 23.68 seconds in the 200-meter dash broke Baker's school record


(23.79) set earlier this season.


"Shian Hyde won the 200 with a new school record to her name. It was a great race to watch, " Blackwill said. "Kristal Liburd won the long jump, breaking her own school record. She was consistence on all her jumps and jumped well through all the competition."


All three Lady T-Birds earned First All-American honors for winning their events.


NMJC also had five individuals and one relay earn Second Team All-American honors, Baker (400-meter), Sermons (800-meters), Gitahi (1,000-meters and 3,000-meters), Liburd (triple jump). The Lady T-Birds distance medley relay, run by Jacobs, Hew, Sermons, and Gitahi, was also honored.


To be named an All-American, an athlete needs to finish among the top eight in an event at nationals. The Lady T-Birds had 28 athletes earn All-American honors.


"If you are in the top eight, you are considered an All-American," Blackwill said. "We had 28 (All-Americans) and I think that just tells you how well the girls performed. … Anytime you can get 28 All-Americans, it says something about how well you competed, no doubt."


NMJC will honor the Lady T-Birds on Wednesday in Caster Activity Center at noon.