Starting the 2023 cross-country season out with a third-place finish are, from left, Wylie Teagarden, Kally Stroup, Laramie Stevens, Bree Allen, Kelsie Konitzer, and Ryleigh Lueker (not pictured). (Photos by Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)
GARNETT – Prairie View junior cross-country standout Bree Allen last week picked up where she left off during last year’s season – winning races by half a minute or more.
The defending Class 3A girl’s cross-country champion turned in a time of 19:48 for the 5 kilometer course on the Garnett Country Club Golf Course, 26 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.
Between her finish and the 17th-place finish of freshman Laramie Stevens, the Lady Buffalos earned third-place team medals at the Anderson County meet for a second year in a row.
Other members of the Prairie View girl’s team included Wylie Teagarden, 32nd place; Ryleigh Lueker, 36th; Kally Stroup, 38th; and Kelsie Konitzer, 40th.
“It was a really good meet for her,” said head coach Marcie Teagarden of Stevens’ performance. She said she was initially concerned that putting the freshman in a varsity race might put too much pressure on her, but then she remembered that Allen, Teagarden, Stroup and Lueker began running varsity as freshmen.
She also said that Stevens has been a top five runner in the Prairie View Middle School running team.
The Anderson County meet, held on a course that is rolling and has a punishing quarter-mile hill at the midpoint and again at the end of the race, is a good test for runners at the beginning of the season.
Members of the Prairie View High School cross-country team include, front row from left, Bree Allen, Timberlyn Browning, Quinn Browning, Ryleigh Lueker, Wylie Teagarden; second row, Kaylamarie Gorotiza, Breannna Rhynerson, Kally Stroup, Laramie Stevens, Cheyanne Moss, Ella Steinle, Kelsie Konitzer; back row, Ella McCammon, Coltaun Bartlett, Aaron West, Harvey Hernandez-Guerrero, Benton Stainbrook, and Matthew Stolle.
And while the girl’s team has been a key component of Prairie View’s team for the past two years, the entire team has grown under the guidance of Caldwell, including the boy’s team.
For the past two years senior Harvey Hernandez-Guerrero has been the sole runner on the boy’s team. This year he is being joined by four underclassmen who may develop the times to run as a team at the varsity level, Caldwell said.
Freshman Matthew Stolle turned in a time of 22:11 for a 10th place finish in the junior varsity race. Junior Benton Stainbrook was close behind in 12th place, junior Coltaun Bartlett was 27th, and freshman Aaron Loving-West placed 47th. Hernandez-Guerrero did not race at Garnett because he had not completed the required number of practices to compete, she explained
Caldwell said she wanted to enter those runners in a junior varsity race first to get them accustomed to running at the prep level without the pressure of competing at the varsity level.
The junior varsity girls also showed promise. Sophomore Cheyanne Moss placed 11th in her race with a time of 25:32 with senior Kaylamarie Gorostiza placing 20th; sophomore Ella Steinle, 23rd; senior Ella McCammon, 30th; and Quinn Browning, 45th.
In the lead, junior Bree Allen charges up the long hill midway through the varsity girls race.
Moss is a transfer from Gardner High School whose family moved to the district recently. She comes with experience in both track and cross country, and if she continues to perform as wells she did at Garnett, the coach expects her to take a place on the varsity team this fall.
Two of the positives of having more boys out this year are more competition for the girls and the change in the dynamics of the team.
"It's so nice to have more boys on the team," Caldwell said, adding that the whole team is more at ease because the boys don't take themselves so seriously.
Caldwell, who coaches both high school and middle school teams (the “bigs” and the “littles,” she calls them) credits the middle school program with feeding her high school team. Both programs continue to grow under her leadership.
While she only has two eighth-grade runners, one girl and one boy, she has as many as four boys and four girls competing at the sixth-grade level. And one of her seventh-grade girls placed first at Garnett.
Matthew Stolle starts on a long downhill stretch at the Garnett Country Club course.
One of the surprises at Thursday’s meet was the team from Christ Prep Academy in Lenexa. That school’s runners dominated the team competition, placing first in both boys and girls junior varsity and girls varsity. According to one of the school’s runners, the team consisted of both students who attend a brick-and-mortar school plus those who are home-schooled but have a affiliation with the school.
While not on the list of the Kansas High School Activities Association’s member schools for 2023-24 as of early September, the team’s appearance at the meet, particularly the number of very competitive runners, was a source of discussion for both parents and coaches alike.
PVHS’s Bree Allen said she had run against the second-place finisher from Christ Prep at a cross-country camp during the summer. Allen also continues to run for a club team, and Caldwell said she would likely compete at the high school national this year.
The coach also said that because of scheduling, Allen won’t be competing at the Prairie View home meet on Sept. 25. Instead she will be held out to compete at the varsity invitational meet at Kansas University’s course at Rim Rock north of Lawrence.
Caldwell said she hopes that Allen will be accepted to be included in the race for elite runners. She added that she expects that race to push Allen with better competition with an eye toward the state meet later this fall.
A meet tradition at the end of the varsity races is line dancing. Team supporter Whitley Cox-Halliburton, from left, and runners Cheyanne Moss and Kaylamarie Gorotiza join in with runners from other teams.