Hart wins JuCo Track National Championship

Townsend Colley, Sports Editor

This past fall, Southern Lehigh graduate Meseret Hart competed for a national championship in Westfield, Massachusetts, and returned to the Lehigh Valley victorious. Hart is a cross-country runner for Northampton Community College; the school competes in the division three level of the NJCAA. Throughout the course of the 2015 season Hart compiled win after win on her way to one of the most storied seasons of any runner in NJCAA history.

Hart was one of the most commanding runners in Southern Lehigh history, as she was a Colonial League champion her senior year. That finish followed up a fifth-place showing when she was only a junior behind two seniors, one of whom was a four-time Colonial League champion.

Her recent national championship was the icing on the cake to a season in which Hart was absolutely dominant. Over the course of the season, Hart competed in seven different races and earned a first place in each. One of these victories occurred in the SUNY Poly Wildcat Weekend Classic in which she beat the second place finisher by five seconds. However, Hart beat everyone else in the race by over half a minute. Over the course of the regular season, she picked up several honors, such as being a two-time recipient of the National Cross Country Athlete of the Week award. She capped off the regular season by becoming the EPAC Champion along with winning the NJCAA regional championship in order to make it to the finals in Massachusetts.

The national championship truly was a microcosm of Hart’s season, one in which she could not stop raking in first place finishes and dominant performances. During the championship race Hart had to fight off a pack of 130 other different runners in order to be victorious. Hart’s championship was made even more impressive by the fact that she posted the third best time in the history of the NJCAA DIII Women’s National Championship race with a time of 18 minutes 43.3 seconds, a whole 17 seconds better than the second place finisher in the championship.

After the season ended Hart collected even more post-season accolades, including being named All-Conference and All-League. Hart followed this up with being named the Inaugural NJCAA DIII Cross Country Post-Season Awards Women’s Athlete of the Year along with being a first team All-America selection in the NJCAA DIII Cross Country All American Team.

As only a freshman, Hart has staked her place in the world of college athletics as a championship athlete. With her championship win and her sheer dominance of her opponents all season long, Hart’s season will go down as one of the most impressive seasons in the history of the NJCAA.