Ava Bears Win Home Cross Country Meet; Set Two New Course Records

Ava hosted its only home cross country meet of the year Monday afternoon at the Ava County Club golf course. The varsity boys won their division and the Ava girls were edged out of first place by a single point. Ava seniors Caleb Stillings and Bailey Ray celebrated Senior Night by each setting a new course record in boys’ and girls’ competition, respectively. With senior Caleb Stillings setting a new course record of 17:08 on the hilliest course of the season, the Ava Bears followed suit and defeated district rival, Plato, to take first place by 14 points. The Bears scored 28 points; Plato had 42. Third place went to Sparta with 58 points. Salem had 81 for 4th and Dora had 115 for 5th place. There were 12 schools in attendance, with School of the Ozarks and Faith Christian from West Plains, competing here for the first time. Chadwick, Bradleyville, Summersville, Forsyth and Mtn. Grove returned this year also. Stillings improved his time by 34 seconds this year over last and beat the 2nd place runner Tristan Eaton from Sparta by a full 38 seconds. Eaton had held the previous course record from 2013. Senior Logan Sicilia came in 3rd overall with a time of 18:09. Senior Jessie Slavens took 5th place in 18:21, sophomore Drew Adams placed 13th in 19:16 and improved his time over last year by 29 seconds. Sophomore Joe Sicilia had a time of 19:39 to place 15th. Freshman Jacob Key ran a 19:42 and placed 17th. Senior Jonah Brown was 20th in a time of 19:56. Sage Clunn ran a 20:49 for the 34th spot and Junior Jacob Luebbering placed 35th in a time of 21:18. There were 66 runners in the boys varsity race. On the varsity girls side, senior Bailey Ray also set a new course record, crushing the old one set by Plato‚Äôs Lexi McNeil last year by 1 minute and 1 second. Bailey ran a 20:38 and bested her time from 2014 by 1 minute 22 seconds. Senior Kayla Cooper came in next for the Lady Bears with a 23:43 to place 5th. Kayla was a whopping 3 minutes and 1 second faster than the time she posted last year. Senior Tori Kuz ran 3 seconds faster than last year to place 8th with a time of 24:22. Freshmen Emily Stillings ran a personal course record by 1 minute 38 seconds to place 14th with a time of 25:36. Sophomore Darci Ray finished in 18th with a time of 26:53. Sophomore Emily Little ran a 27:27 to place 22nd. There were 37 girls in the varsity race. The Lady Bears lost to School of the Ozarks by only 1 point. S of O had 36 points, Ava 37. Dora finished with 51 points for 3rd and Plato had 86 points for 4th place. There were 51 runners in the junior varsity and middle school combined race. Sophomore Braden Swofford, of Ava, won the 2500 meter race in a time of 9:53. Braden ran 51 seconds faster than last year. Sophomore Collin Jenkins came in 2nd with a time of 9:58. Freshman Dustin Kilgore had a time of 10:28 to place 4th. Sophomore Troy Herrell ran a 10:45 to place 6th and freshman Gavin Goss improved his time by 1 minute 30 seconds to place 7th in 10:55. Ava 8th grader Eden Little placed 12th overall of both boys and girls with a time of 11:37. She was 2nd among the junior high girls. Clara Sicilia, running unattached, had a time of 11:51 to place 13th. Seventh grader Layla Giorgianni improved her time over last year by 19 seconds with a time of 12:15 to take the 18th overall spot. Seventh grader Jacob Litwiller ran 1 minute 10 seconds faster than last year with a time of 12:23 to place 20th. Fifth grader Celia Fossett took 22nd with a time of 12:26. Celia won the 5th/6th grade girls division. Fifth grader Hunter Hall ran a 13:59 to take 1st in the 5th/ 6th grade boys division. Fifth grader Keeley Akers took 2nd in her division with 14:07. Fifth grader Sara Mendel placed 3rd in her division with a time of 14:15, and 5th grader Olivia Gastineau ran a 14:16 to place 4th. Also in 5th grade, Luke Little ran a 15:20 to place 2nd in his division in the boys. The cross country team would like to sincerely thank the Ava Country Club for the continued use of the golf course. Especially a huge thank you to Mark Wendler for preparing the outer edges, the rough of the course, to make it safe for all runners. Many community members and teachers gave their time to work the race by serving as finish line personnel, corner judges and timers. The 2015 Ava Invitational was a well-run machine only due to the efforts of all of the many volunteers helping. And once again Larry and Debbie Chance offered up their property for handicapped, volunteer and parent parking, for the electricity for the sound system and their trailer used for a stage for the senior night festivities. All of this is much appreciated by the Ava Bears, Lady Bears and coaching staff. The varsity teams compete in the Class 2 District championships this Saturday, Oct. 31, at Willow Springs. The Boys will race at 10:35; the girls at 11:45. The top 2 teams from each district and the top 15 individuals will advance on to the state championships at Hough Park in Jefferson City on Nov. 7.