Sophomore Lona Latema took the course for the Jayhawks on Saturday morning at the NCAA Championships in Tallahassee, Florida. Latema kept pace, finishing 101st out of 250 runners. She clocked a time of 20:31.2, beating her personal record, according to Kansas Athletics.
Heading to nationals was a first for the Eldoret, Kenya native and she was excited and confident to represent the university on the country’s biggest stage.
“My mother once told me, ‘You can’t succeed when you can’t even trust yourself.’ I can’t think of any truer words with the NCAA Championships just a few hours away,” Latema told Kansas Athletics.
Latema paced herself, hanging in the middle of the pack. At the 2,000 meter mark, she was around 104th place, as the leaders and trailers became evident. Four thousand meters down, Latema gained serious ground as she moved up to 86th place.
As she crossed the finish line for the final time this season, Latema finished with a time of 20:31.2, coming in at 101st place. This was Latema’s best race of the season as she broke her personal record by 27 seconds.
On Oct. 15, Latema earned a personal best time of 20:58.6 at the Pre-National Invitational, which was also in Tallahassee. A little more than a month later, on the same course, Latema beat that personal best by almost half a minute.
The 2021 season has been a tremendous year for Lona Latema, who has been the first Jayhawk to cross the finish line in every race this season. Beating two personal records this fall, the sophomore still has time for improvement.