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The Ava Lady Bears turned in record times and places to put away 2nd place Mtn. Grove for the SCA conference title held at Willow Springs on Monday.
With beautiful weather and lots of Bear grit, the Ava girls, ran their way into history winning the girls’ varsity SCA conference for the first time since the cross country program has been in existence for Ava.
Junior Christina Shortt pulled hard on the uphills for a 2nd place finish overall and to make 1st team all SCA. Christina’s time was 22:47, just behind the conference champ of the meet, Ciara Hogsett from Willow Springs who had a time of 22:29.
Junior Ashley Rieken, who has battled walking pneumonia for most of the season and had to miss half of the meets thus far, poured on the speed in the last mile to finish 6th overall with a personal best time this season of 24:41.
Senior Kendra McCleary ran another personal best by almost a minute to finish 7th in 24:58, while senior, Destany Russell, finished 8th with a time of 26:21, just off her best time by 5 seconds.
Junior Amanda Greene finished 10th with a time of 27:58. Ashley, Kendra, Destany and Amanda all earned 2nd team all SCA conference honors.
Junior Brittany Walker earned SCA honorable mention honors by finishing 11th with a season personal best of 28:21.
Coach Liz Kyger commented about how exciting it was to see the Lady Bears finally reap the benefits from all the hard work the team has done, starting last June with the summer program, working out on two a days repeatedly through the season and running extra on the weekends.
“I am just so proud of how hard they have worked and how determined they were to do well as a team at the conference meet,” she said.
The Ava boys’ cross country team turned in record times from all runners but came up 4 points short and placed 2nd to the Mtn. View Liberty Eagles at the conference meet.
Despite all five Bears running their personal bests, the Liberty Eagles slipped by to win the SCA title and put the Bears in a close 2nd.
With all-time conference meet records being shattered by five athletes from three different schools, the competition was fierce and fast.
For the Ava Bears, three of the runners made the all time fastest top 10 conference times.
Junior Dakota Renner, who finished 2nd overall, churned up a 17:44 time and took over the 3rd fastest spot of all time in conference meet history, earning him 1st team all conference honors.
Also earning 1st team honors was junior Luke Shortt who blazed away to beat his personal best by 27 seconds by running an 18:03 for 4th place overall and a 7th spot on the record chart for all time conference places.
Earning 2nd team all SCA was senior Chase Dixon who ran a 18:09 to a personal best by 7 seconds to place 10th on the history chart and to bump his brother, Zach Dixon, and Ava alum Joe Dering, (both set in 2008) off the top 10 list for best conference times.
Chase finished in 6th place for the meet.
Senior Kody Kutz barely missed dropping into the 18′s by running a 19:02, also his best time of the season for 10th place, also earning 2nd team all SCA honors, while Junior Phillip Eubanks ran a personal best of 19:57 to place 14th and earn honorable mention all SCA honors.
Missing, however, from the meet was James Ferguson who was out due to illness. Cocah Kyger predicts he would have made quite an impact on the final results had he been able to attend.
Just for fun, take a look at the improvements these five runners have made compared to last year’s conference meet.
Renner last year ran a 19:02, this year 17:44.
Chase Dixon ran a 19:41 last year, this year 18:09.
Kutz last year ran a 19:47, this year 19:02.
Eubanks last year 23:58, this year 19:57. He has dropped his time by 4 minutes!
And Shortt, who didn’t even make the varsity team last year, ran an 18:03 and made the all time top 10 list this year! Luke has improved his best time from last year’s season to this year by 3 minutes and 32 seconds.
“I think to see the determination and focus that these athletes have and the positive attitudes they maintain is the reason that I love this team and the way they have performed this season,” said Coach Kyger. “They pull together, help each other during training and the meets and I can only see that they have great things in their future for the remainder of this season and for life.”
Kyger went on to say, “Yes, it was disappointing to lose to Liberty, but that has made them that much more determined for our home meet on Monday and to show what they can get done at Districts on Saturday, Oct. 29.”
Local fans can see the Ava runners on the home course at the Ava County Club next Monday, Oct. 24. The meet is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.