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No personal records were set on the grueling 5-kilometer course, and with temperatures well into the 80s it was all the Ava ladies could do to fight off the Trojans and the Panthers.
Christina Shortt came in 3rd overall, behind Bakersfield’s Betsy Minkler and Plato’s Shalyn Barton, who were 1st and 2nd respectively. Kendra McCleary placed next for the Lady Bears, 9th overall.
Ashley Rieken was 12th, Destany Russell right behind her in 13th, Brittany Walker came in 15th and Amanda Greene was 16th.
The Sparta team placed 2nd and Mtn. Grove 3rd. Bakersfield, Licking, Plato and Eminence had individual runners but not full teams attending.
On the boy’s side, retribution was in the air for the Bears as they attacked and defeated Liberty who had just claimed the conference title from them last week.
Unfortunately, Sparta came to town ready to run and ended up besting the Bears for the overall win. As with the girls, no personal bests were set but individually, Dakota Renner placed 2nd overall, Chase Dixon 9th, Luke Shortt 11th, and James Ferguson 15th.
Kody Kutz got nudged, literally, at the line by a Liberty runner and took 21st. Ava’s Phillip Eubanks placed 34th.
Jasper Bunton from Liberty was the overall winner.
Ava took 2nd as a team, Liberty 3rd place, Plato 4th place, Licking 5th, Bakersfield 6th, Eminence 7th, and Bradleyville 8th.
Other schools participating, but not with full teams, were Forsyth, Cabool and Mtn. Grove.
The Ava athletic department was pleasantly surprised to have such a good turn out – 11 schools participating with 62 boys in the varsity race and 26 varsity girls. In the junior high and junior varsity race, there were eight total. This really exceeds last year’s runner numbers that only had 35 in the boys’ race and 15 girls.
The Ava Bears and Lady Bears seniors were honored before the meet with the Ava High School choir singing the National Anthem while, just back from basic training, 2010 Ava High School graduate and former cross country runner, Zach Dixon, proudly held the American flag in his Navy uniform.
A number of volunteers assisted the local athletic department in hosting this local meet, and all the help was much appreciated.
In the junior high/junior varsity race, Plainview 8th grader Caleb Stillings, who runs for Ava, finished 2nd overall, and 7th grader Jacob Luebbering came in right behind him to finish 3rd. Both these boys are the first junior high runners to compete for Ava.
At the conference meet last week, Caleb finished 6th place to medal with a time of 9:53 for the 2500-meter course, which is a 6:22 per mile average. Jacob finished in 9th place running a 6:42 average mile pace for a 10:24 total time. Both these boys play other sports and have sacrificed a lot of their ‘down’ time to dedicate it to running.
They have been supportive of the high school teams, helping time and encouraging their older teammates.
“To have these two be the first junior high runners ever for Ava means a lot to the advancement of our program,” says Coach Liz Kyger. “These two have set a high standard for junior high cross country runners in the future at Ava. They have been a very important part of our program this year and really were fun to coach,” Coach Kyger added.