Little's title shot ends prematurely at state cross-country meet
Saturday’s state cross country meet at Wamego was starting to look like it would have a good finish for Jackson Heights. The boys’ team had finished seventh overall in Class 2A, and the girls’ lone competitor, sophomore Faith Little, was predicted to bring home a medal.
In fact, Little’s family members and friends were gathering at the finish line to cheer her on when they noticed that Little was at the front of the pack as she came down one of the 3.2-mile course’s last hills and neared the finish line, and they prepared to celebrate a state title with her.
And then — as JHHS Cross Country Head Coach Brad Alley witnessed — with a quarter of a mile to go, the unthinkable happened.
“She started to weave off the marked course,” Alley said of Little. “That’s when I saw her eyes kind of roll into the back of her head, and she collapsed.”
None of this was apparent to those at the finish line who were waiting to see Little cross first, but when Stanton County’s Rebeca Avelar, followed by Bennington’s Kya Johnson and several others crossed the line with no view of Little in sight, the attitude shifted from high spirits to concerns that something must have happened to her.
Those concerns were answered when paramedics brought Little to a first aid tent near the end of the course via utility vehicle. Family members, friends and race officials gathered around her to make sure that she would be fine.
“I just want to go home,” Little was heard to say.
Alley said Little stayed at the first aid tent for more than half an hour recovering from the collapse, coping with both the dizziness of her physical condition and the disappointment of not being able to finish the race. Later that night, Alley noted, Little contacted him to let him know that she was in “pretty good spirits” despite what had happened earlier.
According to Alley, Little’s race started off well.
“She ran the first part of the race about as good as she could possibly run,” he said. “She stuck to the game plan, which was to get in that top five group in the first mile. We wanted to make sure she stayed within striking distance of the first girl for the entire race.”
Alley estimated that Little “probably got a little bit impatient” with about half a mile to go, and she attempted to “make a move” on Johnson as they drew near the finish line. As Little approached Alley at the quarter-mile mark, the coach could sense that something was wrong.
“She literally just pushed her body to the absolute max,” Alley said. “She made a decision that she was going to go after it, and unfortunately, her body said no when her mind was saying yes.”
In spite of what happened on Saturday, Alley said he is confident that Little — a two-time state champion at last spring’s track and field competitions — will bounce back, and as a sophomore, the goal of a state cross country championship is still within her reach.
“Anybody who knows Faith knows that this will only motivate her,” he said. “She believes that she’s capable of winning the state title in cross country, and I promise you that she will be the most motivated girl in the state when it comes to track and cross country.”
As stated earlier, Jackson Heights’ boys team took seventh place overall. The Cobra boys were led by junior Dalton Chartier, whose 22nd-place finish had him three seconds short of medaling, but as Alley noted, Chartier still ran a good race.
“Dalton’s been our number one runner all year,” Alley said of Chartier. “We’ve come to expect him to be there. I think he’s going to have a really great season in track next spring, and he’ll carry it over into cross country next year.”
Chartier was followed by senior Mark Mavrovich, wrapping up his high school cross country career in 43rd place out of 99.
“He’ll be missed,” Alley said of Mavrovich. “He’s led us well.”
Sophomore Lane Thomas finished two places and four seconds behind Mavrovich, and Alley noted Thomas’ dedication and drive for being a dual-sports competitor, dividing his time between cross country and football.
“This was a really good experience for our boys because they’re pretty young,” Alley said of the boys team’s final meet of the 2016 season. “Coming here and experiencing this is a pretty valuable experience. I thought we ran reasonably well. We knew coming in this was going to be tough for us. But we were pretty happy to be here, and I thought they ran pretty hard for us.”
Elsewhere at Saturday’s state meet for KSHSAA classes 1A, 2A and 4A, Wetmore High School senior Aaron Achten capped an impressive high school cross country career with his third-straight medal in the 1A boys’ race.
Achten, who set school track and field records in 1600m and 3200m runs this past spring and finished in fifth place at last year’s state 1A cross country meet, crossed the finish line in 13th place this past Saturday.
State Cross Country Meet
KSHSAA Class 1A-2A-4A
Wamego Golf Club
Team scores: 1. Beloit-St. John’s, 2. Frankfort, 3. South Gray, 4. Brewster, 5. Olpe, 6. Wakefield, 7. Axtell, 8. Greeley County, 9. Wallace County, 10. Pretty Prairie.
Individual scores: 1. True (Olpe) 16:18.67, 2. Lutgen (Beloit-St. John's) 16:26.14, 3. Skinner (South Gray) 17:25.88, 4. Bates (Beloit-St. John's) 17:41.22, 5. Gardiner (Ashland) 17:42.01, 6. Zeigler (Natoma) 17:48.73, 7. Bowen (Wakefield) 17:56.17, 8. Gehring (Pretty Prairie) 17:58.03, 9. Wolters (Osborne) 18:04.06, 10. Fischer (Wallace County) 18:06.60, 11. Deters (Axtell) 18:08.07, 12. Delaney (Osborne) 18:09.13, 13. Achten (Wetmore) 18:23.88, 14. Reeves (Scandia-Pike Valley) 18:26.34, 15. Benham (Brewster) 18:30.05, 16. Pando (Satanta) 18:30.71, 17. Faulkender (St. Francis) 18:30.80, 18. Meuli (Victoria) 18:31.50, 19. Keller (Palco) 18:34.45, 20. Navarrete (Deerfield) 18:36.56.
Team scores: 1. St. John, 2. Stanton County, 3. Yates Center, 4. KC Christian, 5. Bennington, 6. Salina-Sacred Heart, 7. Holton-Jackson Heights, 8. Wichita County, 9. Pratt-Skyline, 10. Ellinwood.
Individual scores: 1. Cuevas (Kiowa County) 16:41.20, 2. Splechter (Yates Center) 16:41.37, 3. Thompson (Meade) 17:21.74, 4. Bedell (Yates Center) 17:30.62, 5. Pishny (Valley Heights) 17:31.31, 6. Carrasco (Stanton County) 17:51.29, 7. Smith (Yates Center) 17:52.62, 8. Shriver (Pratt-Skyline) 18:00.04, 9. Barrera (Stanton County) 18:06.24, 10. Nelson (Bishop Seabury) 18:07.34, 11. Hinerman (Hillsboro) 18:14.44, 12. Boatwright (Maranatha) 18:15.17, 13. Browning (KC Christian) 18:15.62, 14. Rovenstine (KC Christian) 18:18.89, 15. Mumford (KC Christian) 18:21.30, 16. Aita (Bennington) 18:22.55, 17. Miller (St. John) 18:29.02, 18. Martisko (Inman) 18:31.31, 19. Long (St. John) 18:36.14, 20. Giefer (Trego Community) 18:36.73, 22. Chartier (Jackson Heights) 18:39.12, 43. Mavrovich (Jackson Heights) 19:34.73, 45. Thomas (Jackson Heights) 19:38.51, 52. Fritz (Jackson Heights) 19:47.27, 54. Holliday (Jackson Heights) 19:55.19, 62. Fund (Jackson Heights) 20:08.90, 70. Pino (Jackson Heights) 20:26.76 54.
Team scores: 1. Bennington, 2. Kiowa County, 3. Wabaunsee, 4. Shawnee-Maranatha Academy, 5. Ellinwood, 6. Elbing-Berean Academy, 7. Stanton County, 8. Lyndon, 9. Ellis, 10. Decatur Community.
Individual scores: 1. Avelar (Stanton County) 20:24.71, 2. K. Johnson (Bennington) 20:40.98, 3. Hess (Wabaunsee) 20:52.79, 4. Topham (Berean Academy) 21:00.34, 5. Donley (Lincoln) 21:12.65, 6. H. Giefer (Trego Community) 21:24.06, 7. S. Giefer (Trego Community) 21:37.14, 8. Moore (Ness City) 21:45.52, 9. Shaffer (Kiowa County) 22:04.99, 10. H. Johnson (Bennington) 22:05.33, 11. Strecker (Ellinwood) 22:07.97, 12. Stanley (Bennington) 22:09.89, 13. Hammeke (Ellinwood) 22:28.43, 14. Stimatze (Macksville) 22:32.42, 15. Gilliland (Salina-Sacred Heart) 22:34.17, 16. Montgomery (Lyndon) 22:39.05, 17. Smades (Wichita County) 22:39.81, 18. Funk (McLouth) 22:44.73, 19. Rhodes (Kiowa County) 22:44.94, 20. Eisele (Maranatha) 22:59.71.