By BRETT MARSHALL
Garden City High School's Lady Buffs cross country team successfully opened its much-anticipated 2013 season on Thursday by literally running away from the competition at the Great Bend Invitational. It was a much different result for the Buffs' boys, whose seven-member squad all were competing in their first varsity meet.
Seniors Alex Miller, Kayla Doll and Chelsea Jackson ran 1-2-3 while junior Katy Doll was right behind in fourth for coach Krista Linenberger's squad as they totaled 18 points with runner-up Ellinwood well back with 65 points. Senior Maria Rodriguez' eighth-place finish accounted for the other counting score for the Lady Buffs.
The boys, meanwhile, struggled to a seventh-place finish in the nine team meet, scoring 176 points. Liberal was first with 46 and Ellinwood second with 74.
For the Lady Buffs, Miller and Kayla Doll ran nearly side-by-side the entire 4-kilometers before Miller just nudged Doll at the finish line, clocking a 16:01 to 16:02 for Kayla Doll. Jackson was nearly a half-minute behind in 16:31 and Katy Doll was at 16:41. Rodriguez' time was 17:22. Also running for the Lady Buffs were Ashley Smith, 16th in 18:26, and Emily Herrada in 39th with a time of 20:47.
"I thought it was a great start to the season," Linenberger said. "Everyone ran well and I'm very pleased with the results."
Linenberger was also happy with her junior varsity girls, who took 15 of the top 20 spots in that portion of the meet. Senior Cecilia Alvarez and freshman Aileen Gurrola were 1-2 with times of 17:54 and 18:00.
On the boys' side, senior Drew Cady took the top spot for the Buffs, finishing 16th with a time of 19:04 for the 5-kilometer run.
"It was evident that the boys just didn't know how to run a varsity race," Linenberger said. "It's something that we'll get better at when we get a little more experience. Obviously, we've got room for improvement, but the kids did run hard."
Ray Urbina was next in 29th with a time of 19:37. Josh Kreger was 41st (20:40), Helmer Guevara 44th (21:01), David Acosta-Hernandez 46th (21:03), Tucker Schiffelbein 51st (21:44) and Stephen Bowddhara 53rd (21:59).
The Lady Buffs began their season-long pursuit of a Class 6A state title after the same five girls who scored Thursday finished as the state runner-up a season ago at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence. Miller paced that best-ever program performance with an individual second-place finish.
Expectations are high, but Linenberger likes the attitude of the girls.
"They know that nobody is going to hand them a trophy," the veteran GCHS coach said. "They've come into the season having trained hard and are in good shape. This was evident with the way they ran."
Next up for the cross country group will be the Hesston Invitational on Thursday.
Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.
The Garden City High School boys' soccer team's bid for a berth in the championship game of the Wichita South Titan Classic came up short on Thursday night, falling to Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel, 3-0, in the semifinals at South High.
The Buffs trailed the Crusaders 2-0 at halftime but could never find the goal despite winning the shots battle by a 17-9 margin.
"Things just weren't falling," said Josue Negron, assistant coach for the Buffs. "The shots we would normally make, just were wide."
The Crusaders, ranked No. 5 in Class 5A in the preseason Kansas Soccer Coaches Association poll, got goals from Rhys Allen in the eighth minute and Grant Wells in the 25th minute to go up 2-0 before the break. Logan Wells scored the game's only goal for the Crusaders in the final 40 minutes, getting his in the 53rd.
Israel Reyes and Kevin Martinez shared goalkeeper duties for the Buffs, with Reyes notching four saves and Martinez two.
The Buffs will play Wichita Northwest in the 1 p.m. Saturday third-place game at South High. Northwest lost a 1-0 thriller to Derby in the other semifinal. Derby and Kapaun will face-off at 3 p.m. for the championship.