Buffalo cross country team prepares to make run for 3A title

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

The Prairie View girls cross country team celebrates Saturday's win at Fredonia. The team includes, front row from left, Wylie Teagarden, Bree Allen, Ryleigh Lueker; back row, coach Marcie Caldwell, Jessica Petric, Ella McCammon, Kally Stroup, Kelsie Konitzer, and assistant coach Joy Epperson. (Screen capture)

The Prairie View girls cross country team set a new benchmark last Saturday, Oct. 23, when they won the Class 3A regional meet at Fredonia. It’s the first time since the mid-1980s that Prairie View has qualified a girls team for the state meet.

And the girls won the meet in convincing fashion, chalking up an average time of 23:20. That was nearly a minute faster than the average time for Anderson County, which was in second place with an average time of 23:12.

While freshman Bree Allen has been a front runner – and regional champ this year – the team sees their work as just that, a team effort.

Allen, who set a new school record earlier this month, ran the 5,000-meter course at Fredonia with a time of 19:52, more than half a minute faster than the second-place finisher.

But freshman Wylie Teagarden was not far behind in fifth place; freshman Ryleigh Lueker was 11th, freshman Kally Stroup was 14th, senior Jessica Petric, 18th; sophomore Kelsie Konitzer, 33rd; and sophomore Ella McCammon, 40th. Both Lueker and Petric set personal records at the meet.

Will that team effort be enough to earn a team trophy this weekend? The girls and coach Marcie Caldwell hope so.

“I have been working to build a team atmosphere since I started,” said Caldwell, who is in her fifth season as coach. “The thing about cross country is that you can excel as an individual and also succeed as a team.

“While the individual accomplishments are very important, it’s fun to be able to celebrate as a group. This year we have had a team atmosphere. Running for themselves and running for each other – celebrating each other’s victories, personal records, medals.”

This is the first time that Caldwell has taken a team to the state meet.

“Brooke Allen qualified as an individual my first three years, Kelsie Konitzer qualified last year as an individual,” Caldwell said. “I haven’t had a boy qualify yet, but they’re getting there.”

Brooke Allen (Bree Allen’s older sister) qualified for state four times, and Konitzer qualified as a freshman last year, which was impressive, Caldwell said.

Caldwell said the course at Wamego will be more challenging than the course for the regional. It has more hills and a tough place to start. But the Lady Buffalos have spent plenty of time working the steep hills on 2200 Road west of the school.

“I think the girls will be ready for Saturday,” Caldwell said. “We’ve been discussing strategy, patience, and passing, and working through the areas that cause stress and mistakes. They are ready to leave their mark.”

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