Youth dominates All-Area XC team

Rebeca Avelar, So.

Stanton County

Stanton County finished seventh as a team at the Class 2A girls state cross country meet in Wamego.

Sophomore Rebeca Avelar led the team with a seventh-place finish, running 15:47.80.

That time was just 56 seconds out of first.

Also a volleyball player during the same season, Avelar finished first six times out of eight meets, including winning the league and regional titles.

Coach Mike Norton said, “Rebeca has been our No. 1 runner and a very important part of the last two years’ success. We graduate two very good seniors, Jenna Black and Haley Floyd. Rebeca has doubled with volleyball the last two years; she plans to focus on running the next two years.”

In addition to taking her running to an even higher level, Norton added, the coaches will be looking to her to help get more girls out to fill the void left by the graduates.

“Rebeca has a wonderful personality and great leadership qualities. We know she will lead us and run very well,” he said.

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Favorite Athlete: Mary Cain

Favorite Food: Buffalo wings from Pizza Hut

Favorite Class in School: World History

Person I Most Admire: My mom

If I Could Meet One Person, It Would Be: My grandmother

Favorite Pastime: Sleeping

Season highlights: 1st place, six of eight meets; League and regional champion.

Honors: All-league; All-regional; All-state; All-area.

Luis Carmona, Sr.

Garden City

The only thing better than being on the Class 6A runner-up boys team was finishing as the team’s fastest runner on Oct. 31 at the Rim Rock Farm course in Lawrence.

It was a good way for Luis Carmona to end his high school cross country career. The senior placed seventh in 16:29.70.

In just his first year at Garden City after transferring from Texas, the senior also doubled up by playing on the Buffs’ soccer team.

His soccer team played in Garden City the night before the state meet. While the cross country team was already in Lawrence, athletic director Martin Segovia drove Carmona to Junction City, stayed overnight, and got to the meet just 75 minutes before race time the next morning.

It’s pretty typical of the season, his coach, Krista Linenberger, said.

“He is a great competitor. He brought a new look to our boys team and really helped push the kids we had returning from last year. He is certainly a driven young man,” Linenberger said.

Linenberger was impressed with how Carmona was able to juggle his fall schedule on two successful sports teams.

“I’m very proud of how he was able to manage his time and did so in such a mature way,” she said. “His state performance certainly bolstered his team into that runner-up spot. Having played in the soccer playoffs the night before, it was certainly a gutsy race for him.”

Erik Chaparro, So.

Garden City

Finishing second as a team at the Class 6A state meet in Lawrence felt pretty good for Erik Chaparro.

The good news is that he has two more seasons to be on a title team.

The sophomore capped a great year with a ninth-place individual finish, running 16:35.50. That was just 14 seconds shy of fourth place, a great time to shoot for next season for an even higher finish.

As a freshman, Chaparro finished 19th. As a sophomore, he ran six seconds faster and finished 10 places higher.

Coach Krista Linenberger said, “Every day he brings determination, belief and a ‘nothing’s going to stop us’ sense of direction to our team. He knows it’s going to happen. He works to make it happen and nothing will make him believe otherwise. It’s very contagious to our team.”

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Favorite Athletes: The whole Buffaloes cross country team

Favorite Class in School: Chemistry

Person I Most Admire: Natsu

If I Could Meet One Person, It Would Be: Peyton List

Favorite Pastimes: Walking my dogs; running; eating

Season Highlights: Our race at Hesston — the team finished first and I finished third; Rim Rock invitational — we finished sixth and I finished 35th; El Dorado — we finished first and had our top three runners finish in the top five with our 4th through 7th runners right behind; definitely State where we got second and I got ninth.

Honors: All-WAC last two years; All-region two years; All-state two years.

Katy Doll, Sr.

Garden City

Katy Doll didn’t finish her high school career quite the way she wanted.

After winning the regional title just a week earlier, Doll finished in 50th at the Class 6A state meet in 16:29.90.

But it was still a good season and capped off a successful high school career.

Running in the unfamiliar role of senior leader, Doll led a varsity of four freshmen and one sophomore at the state meet.

In 2013, she was part of a senior-laden team that finished second. She finished 19th that year as a junior in 16:08.54.

Coach Krista Linenberger said of Doll, “She never gave up on the team. She didn’t let any circumstances deter her from what was right for the team. She provided great leadership to our young team of girls. I’m very proud about the choices she made throughout the season and really showed us what she was made of. She is a very courageous person.”

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Favorite Athlete: Kayla Doll (sister)

Favorite Food: Mac and cheese

Favorite Class in School: Sugar Beet

Person I Most Admire: Jennifer Doll (mother)

If I Could Meet One Person, It Would Be: Jesus

Favorite Pastimes: Running, and hanging out with friends

College I Plan to Attend: Kansas State

Area of Intended Study: Nursing or something health-related

Season Highlights: Regional champion; finishing 22nd at the KU Classic; recording my personal best 15:34 at El Dorado

Honors: All-WAC; All-Area; All-Regional

Makaela Stevens, Fr.

Scott City

Makaela Stevens won one meet in the regular season, finishing second five times and third once.

The only “worse” finish was seventh place at the Class 3A state meet.

But just a freshman, she has plenty of chances to improve on that.

Stevens paced a loaded Scott City team, comprised mostly of underclassmen, that won its league and regional titles, as well as three other regular invitational titles.

If they weren’t winning, they were runners-up until the state meet, where they finished fourth.

Pretty good for a varsity squad of three freshmen, one sophomore, one junior and one senior.

“It was a real good day for us,” coach Kevin Reese said of the state meet. “Makaela ran exceptionally well. I thought a top-10 would be a good day, and she did that, but her time was really good, so I’m real happy for her and the team.”

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Favorite Athlete: Collin Klein

Favorite Food: Cheesecake (I didn’t eat any during XC season, though)

Favorite Class in School: Band

Person I Most Admire: My dad

Favorite Pastime: Playing the piano

Season Highlights: Fastest time of the season (15:57) at the Stanton County Invitational; 1st place, Ness City; 2nd place five times (including league and regional); 3rd place once; 7th at state; five team titles, including league and regional.

Honors: All-league, All-state, All-area

Marcus Tula, So.

Garden City

Marcus Tula finished as the third runner on the Garden City Class 6A state runner-up team.

Tula ran the Rim Rock Farm course in 16:41.80, good enough for 18th place, but just six seconds behind teammate Erik Chaparro and 12 seconds behind Luis Carmona. That top 20 finish earned him an individual medal as well.

As a freshman last year, Tula finished 29th. He improved his time this year by 18 seconds.

It was a highlight to a season in which the young runner took the regional individual title to go with the team trophy.

Coach Krista Linenberger said, “He is one of the nicest, hardest working young men I know. He brings such a sense of leadership, persistence, ‘never give up’ attitude to practice and on the course.”

Linenberger added that she was excited that Tula became the regional individual champion this season.

“He certainly raced harder than anyone else on the course that day. The good news is we have him and Erik (Chaparro) back as juniors next season,” she said.

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Favorite Athlete: Kevin Durant

Favorite Food: Pizza

Favorite Class: Chemistry

Person I Most Admire: My mom

Person I Would Most Want to Meet: Steve Prefontaine (U.S. Olympic distance runner)

Favorite Memory: Going to state with an amazing group of athletes and coaches

Season Highlights: 1st at regionals; Personal record of 16:07 at El Dorado.

Honors: All-league (3rd place); Regional (1st); State (18th)