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On Sept. 18, Ava Bears Cross Country competed at the Nixa Invitational held on a 3.1 mile grass course beside Nixa’s Inman Elementary.
A total of 23 schools attended and the competitions were divided into Classes 1 and 2 schools racing each other and Class 3 and 4 schools in a separate race.
In the small school division which is what Ava competes in, the boys’ cross country team once again had a good showing by placing 3rd with 96 points behind 1st place Lamar with 29 points and Sparta, 2011 class 1, 2nd place finishers at state with 71 points.
In 4th place was Springfield Catholic with 97 pts., 5th Crane 131 pts., 6th College Heights 153 pts., 7th Diamond 203 pts., 8th South West 215 pts., 9th Clever 223 pts., 10th Wheaton 268 pts., 11th Spokane 292 pts., 12th Walnut Grove 324 pts. and 13th Greenwood 359 pts.
Dakota Renner led Ava’s pack placing 6th with a time of 17:23. Luke Shortt ran 18:24 for 20th place, Jordan Dimirsky came in 22nd with a time of 18:30. Caleb Stillings placed 24th in 18:33. James Ferguson was 18:44 and finished 28th.
Phillip Eubanks was 47th at 19:55 and Justin Young came in 60th with a time of 20:56. There were 95 runners in the boys’ race. The top 20 earned medals.
In the varsity girls’ race, Christina Shortt ran a 22:35 to place 14th and medal.
In the junior varsity 2.2 mile race, Hayden Schuster led the young Bears and medaled by finishing in the 16th spot with a time of 14:09.23. Trevor Randolph in the first race of his career, ran 16:55. John Vineyard came in next for the Bears and posted a 17:07.
Sage Clunn finished next with a time of 17:23. Then Logan Crespin ran in at 17:53 followed by Jonah Brown also running in his first race. Jonah had a time of 18:55.
Under a deluge of 5 inches of rain, the Varsity Bears cross country team competed at the Southern Stampede in Joplin, on Saturday, Sept 15. The meet, one of the largest in the country, was hosted by Joplin’s Missouri Southern State University.
Besides the high school varsity races, also competing were D-1 universities and smaller colleges as well as junior colleges.
In the high school races alone, there were 851 competitors representing four states.
Sometimes things don’t always go as smoothly as planned as the Bears encountered high water on the early drive over and a bridge out. Making it just in time for the girls’ varsity race to begin, Christina Shortt, drenched and with rain pouring through her entire race, ran strong, only 39 seconds off her time she had posted at the West Plains meet the week before. Christina finished 119 out of the 309 other varsity girls running.
Getting back to things sometimes not going so smoothly, while the Bears’ varsity team was warming up, the varsity boys’ race started, leaving the Ava boys behind.
Thankfully, the Bears were able to compete in the junior varsity race immediately following. But by the time that race started, the course, already in very bad shape, had deteriorated to shin high mud in most places and two knee-deep lakes that had to be crossed at the start and the finish.
Luke Shortt showed some superior grit and finished in first place with a time of 18:40. Five out of the seven Bear runners fell multiple times and their finish times certainly reflect a challenging race.
Dakota Renner came in 3rd with a time of 19:09. Caleb Stillings finished in 18th with a time of 20:04. Jordan Dimirsky finished in 21st with a time of 20:24. Justin Young came in at 41st with a time of 21:04. Phillip Eubanks, completely covered in mud, finished 49th at 21:23. James Ferguson finished 85th in 22:31.
There were 172 runners in the JV race. Coach Kyger commented that besides a great experience getting to be a part of such a huge meet, the only thing that really went right was the meal afterwards at Ryans!