By BRETT MARSHALL
For the second consecutive Saturday, the Garden City High School cross country teams competed in a major invitational race, this time the 25th annual Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Ark., and once again the weather conditions were deplorable.
Another chilly, windy and rain-soaked day greeted the Buffs' girls and boys teams at one of the largest high school meets in the United States.
But the Lady Buffs came up with a strong performance, led by senior Alex Miller's eighth-place individual finish, to capture third place in the team standings in a field of 55 teams that consisted of 437 runners.
The Lady Buffs finished with 184 points while Heritage High School of Rogers, Ark., was first with 141 oints and Festus, Mo. was second with 165 points.
Miller was clocked in 19:31.1 over the 5-kilometer course that serves as the home for the University of Arkansas. That was well back of inidividual winner Jamie Pempfer of Festus, Mo., who had a time of 18:35.1. But second through eighth times were close, with only 26 seconds separating those finishers.
"Alex continues to run well, but I thought considering the conditions that all the girls ran hard and competed well," said GCHS coach Krista Linenberger.
Kayla Doll was next for the Lady Buffs in 16th place (20:01.9) and Chelsea Jackson garnered a top 25 finish (24th, 20:15.3) as the seniors continued to pace the 2013 performances. Junior Katy Doll was next in 64th place at 20:59.7 and freshman Hannah Schultz rounded out the scoring runners in 104th place with a time of 21:35.0.
"Hannah filled our gap and that made a big difference for us in the race," Linenberger said.
It was even more important when seniors Cecelia Alvarez and Maria Rodriguez were well back in 154th and 156th places with times of 22:17.3 and 22:17.8. Freshman Aileen Gurrola was 201st in 22:51.9.
On the boys side, Linenberger said she also was pleased with the team's effort, as the Buffs finished 30th with 848 points in a field comprised of 71 teams.
Freshman Erik Chaparro topped the effort for the Buffs with a 46th place finish and a time of 17:14.7. Ray Urbina was 125th (17:54.4), Marcus Tula was 211th (18:40.0), Jesus Reyes in 235th (18:52.2), Juan Gomez 278th (19:12.3), Drew Cady 329th (19:40.2) and Josh Kreger 340th (19:49.3). There were 537 runners in the event.
The Buffs will next compete on Saturday at the El Dorado Invitational.
In Wichita on Saturday, at Wichita Heights, the Lady Buffs volleyball team enjoyed one of its best performances of the season by capturing third in the Lady Falcons Invitational.
The Lady Buffs posted a 4-2 overall record in earning its finish. They won matches against Junction City (25-15, 25-12), Wichita North (25-13, 25-13), Maize South (25-19, 25-12) and Wichita South (25-21, 25-16) while dropping matches to Heights (17-25, 25-22, 20-25) and to Wichita East (26-24, 25-16).
"It was probably our most consistent Saturday and we served and passed really well," said GCHS coach Shandra Sanders. "I'm very pleased with where we're sitting at this point of the season."
Erin Kunely and Jacksenie Tornero led the team in assists with 52 and 45 while Jaymie Bernbeck and Taryn Tempel topped the list for digs with 46 and 37. In the kills department, it was balanced with Taylor Linenberger and Erick Schafer leading with 29 while Bernbeck and Tempel followed with 23 and 22. Bernbeck and Linenberger led in blocks with eight and six.
The tough loss to East, ranked No. 9 in Class 6A by the Kansas Volleyball Association, provided Sanders with a look at how her team matches up with some of the best in Kansas.
"They wanted it so much but I think there was a point they were afraid to make mistakes," Sanders said of the East match.
The Lady Buffs are home on Thursday for Dig Pink and Senior Night at The New Garden. Dig Pink festivities will take place prior to the 6 p.m. match with Scott City and Senior Night prior to the 7 p.m. match with Dodge City. They will face Ulysses at 4 p.m.
At the McPherson Invitational on Saturday, the Lady Buffs tennis team continued its historical struggle by placing seventh in a field of 10 teams.
The Lady Buffs, who were slated to begin play at 10 a.m. today in Liberal for the Western Athletic Conference tournament, finished Saturday's tourney with 40 points while No. 1-ranked Class 4A McPherson swept the team title with 87 points. Great Bend, the defending WAC champion, was fifth with 42 points while league foes Hays and Liberal had 38 and 12 points.
With singles and doubles teams bracketed together, it made for a difficult day for the Lady Buffs' No. 2 singles and doubles players.
"McPherson is always one of the toughest tournaments we go to," said GCHS coach Rod Robinson. "The No. 2 singles and doubles always end up with a rough day."
Jannette Martinez finished sixth in singles as did the No. 1 doubles team of Claire Schmidt and Shai Cartmill. Each went 2-2 during the tournament.
Martinez won matches over Erin Graber of Newton (8-0) and Katherine Geist of McPherson (8-2), while losing to Shaley Sherrow of Derby and Katlyn Reifschneider of McPherson (8-0). Schmidt and Cartmill toppled Kate Joliff and Stephanie Brown of Newton (8-3) and Hutchinson's Shelby Queal and Melissa Fee (8-6) while falling to Taylor Swartzendruber and Brooke Bate of McPheson (8-1) and to Brianna Schartz and Jamie McVay of Great Bend (8-3).
Andrea Villela finished 1-3 in singles play, with her lone win coming against Susannah Epp of Newton (8-6). The doubles team of Allison Doll and Tania Carmona-Pastrana also went 1-3, their lone win coming against Ashley Cossaart and Abby Rupke of Hays (8-0).