Ava Runners Reach National Elite Status At Joplin’s Southern Stampede

Jonah Brown improved his personal record by more than a minute

Jonah Brown improved his personal record by more than a minute

Jonah Brown improved his personal record by more than a minute

There were nine career personal bests and two national level elite high school achievements recorded by the Ava Bears at the MSSU Southern Stampede  last Saturday.

The Ava Bears made their mark at the Southern Stampede held in Joplin. The university boasts a permanent cross country course that will be host to the NCAA Division II Regional and National Championships this year.  

The Ava boys team placed 16th out of 44 full teams and 58 high schools from four states represented.  Coach Liz Kyger said “There were bigger schools in other classes in front of us but no one in our area or our size placed ahead of us as a team.”  

Caleb Stillings ran a 16:28 and placed 31st out of 370 finishers in the boys race.  Caleb’s time placed him on the high school National Elite level by running under a 16:30 on a certified cross country course. Also obtaining National Elite level was Lady Bear Bailey Ray who placed 19th out of 289 girls by  running a 19:28. The requirement for  high school girls to be placed at that level is to run under a 19:45. Both Caleb and Bailey set new career PRs – Bailey by 53 seconds and Caleb by 5 seconds.  

Logan Sicilia ran a 17:05, his career best also, besting his all-state time from last year by 17 seconds.  Logan finished in 76th place.

Joe Sicilia ran a 17:32, besting his career PR by 34 seconds.  New to Ava, Jessie Slavens, formerly of West Fork, Ark., ran a 17:34. Jessie who was all-state in Class 3 last year in his school’s  inaugural cross country season, finished for the Bears in 128th.

Jonah Brown finished in 212th and bettered his career PR by 1 minute, 6 seconds. Jonah ran a  18:41.

Drew Adams, for the first time this year, ran into the 18s with a time of 18:52. Drew placed 229th.  Sage Clunn ran his best for this season and placed 283rd with a 19:30.  Jacob Key set a new PR with a 19:48, and Jacob Luebbering ran a 20:37, his best time of the season.

The top five boys on the Bears team averaged 17:28, which is a  5:37 per mile average. Of other Missouri schools, the Ava Bears finished ahead of Lamar, Ozark, Crane, Lebanon, East Newton, El Dorado Springs, Carl Junction, Neosho and Seneca. 

 Emily Stillings improved her best time by almost two minutes at the Southern Stampede at Joplin last Saturday

Emily Stillings improved her best time by almost two minutes at the Southern Stampede at Joplin last Saturday

Kayla Cooper had a 22:52, her best time in the last two seasons.  Kayla finished 185th. Darci Ray had her best time of the season with a 24:23 and placed 236th.

Emily Stillings had a whopper of a PR with a 1:59 personal best of her career. She finished in 244th with a time of 24:42.

Hailey Pedersen also had a career PR by 27 seconds. Hailey finished in the 251st spot.  Jimilynn Raybould placed 279th with a 29:00.  

The girls’ team placed 31st out of 35 full teams.