The Garden City Buffalo cross country team finished a strong season with a solid performance at the state meet at the Rim Rock Course in Lawrence Saturday.
The Garden City boys finished eighth and the girls 11th. The top individual finishers for the Buffaloes on Saturday were Javier Cervantes, who finished eighth for the boys and Brooke Navarro who finished 16th for the girls, both medaling.
Shawnee Mission North took the girls title with a 76, edging Blue Valley North’s 79, while Olathe North took the boys title with 45 points to Manhattan’s 57.
Although the Buffaloes were hoping for a bit of a better team performance, head coach Krista Linenberger was happy with the individual performances her kids put up on Saturday.
“We were shooting for a little bit bigger, but we actually had kids that ran really well,” she said. “We had several PRs (personal records).”
Gardner’s Trenton Cochran took the boys’ individual title in 15:49.94, and Riley Beach of Blue Valley Northwest won the girls top medal honors in 18:25.70.
Linenberger also knew the competition at state was going to be tough.
“So, it’s not that they ran badly — it was the strength of the competition,” she said. “We knew it was going to take all of us running our best to make something special happen, and we fell a little bit short of that — not for a lack of effort on anyone's part.”
Senior Javier Cervantes, particularly, had a strong individual performance, finishing the difficult 5-kilometer course in 16 minutes, 19.5 seconds, for the second-best time in GCHS program history, Linenberger said. The state 6A cross country meet has been held at Rim Rock since 1992.
Cervantes wasn't the only Buffalo who accomplished a personal best at state, as Navarro, a senior, posted a solid 19:27.97, besting her previous best by 20 seconds.
Sophomore Makaylee Longoria (65th, 21:10.42) and seniors Georgia Kohlhorst (21:56.78), Mya Navarro (84th, 22:04.75) and Abigail Murrell (89th, 22:15.77) rounded out the counting scores for the Buffs girls.
For the boys, senior Sotero Salazar (32nd, 16:47.29), junior Javyn Contreras (53rd, 17:08.14), senior Kameron Wildeman (71st, 17:19.4) and sophomore Ethan Fisher (86th, 17:33.15) were the top five counting scores.
“I think overall we had a successful season,” Linenberger said. “Looking back, our girls took first in a lot of meets, and our boys were second a couple times behind Wichita-North, who we ended up beat today at state.
“We were WAC champions on the girls’ side and regional champions on the boys’ side. I can’t question anything these kids accomplished this season because they did a great job.”
Linenberger is hoping that the experience her younger runners gained from the state tournament will push them to work hard to get them here again next year.
“Watching those younger boys talk about making plans to try and come back next year, I know they are excited about what we're doing and the belief that they can come back in the future,” she said.