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Ava Bears Cross Country Team Dominates District, State, and Regional Competitions

Victoria Kuz

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The Ava Cross Country team is grateful to celebrate their successes this season. Our boys were district champions and girls were district runner-ups at the meet at Willow Springs on October 31st. Seven Ava runners made all-district and both teams qualified to compete at State on November 7th. For the cross country team, state is the highlight of the season. Besides running the Jefferson City course – the most difficult in the state – the team shares some incredible bonding moments with each other and our families. In the week of State, we had four team dinners and a trip to Ha Ha Tonka State Park. The team members say that cross country is more than a team, it is a family. A pretty crazy family that runs 5-10 miles without stopping, but family has no limits, right? Having been ranked high in the district, the boys team had a strong chance of placing 4th and making all-state together. Needless to say, they were disappointed when the team score fell three places short. Our boys finished at State with a 7th place ranking, and our girls took 13th place. Coach Kyger had a few encouraging words to share on the subject. “It was a sad day… We set high expectations, but I felt that everyone worked as hard as they could and that was the best we could have done that day. We had maximum effort and 2 career PR’s which are a real accomplishment on the state course.” November 7th was a day to remember for seniors Caleb Stillings and Bailey Ray. Although their teams did not qualify for all state, they ranked high in Class 2 and made all state on their own for the second time. Caleb took 3rd and Bailey won 6th in Class 2. They went on to compete at the Nike Cross Regionals in Terre Haute, IN the week after state. Both enjoyed ending their senior cross country season with this step. Said Bailey, “I feel really awesome about it. It’s something you can do that makes you feel good about yourself.” Caleb agreed that Regionals was a “great experience.” His advice to other runners was to “train hard and don’t die; you get what you work for.”

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