It didn’t take long for Northwest freshman Gabriela Reyna to start running with the boys in the Northwest cross country practices.
There are few around who can hang with Reyna, who had her best race of the season last weekend at Rim Rock, where she navigated a muddy 4-kilometer race in 16 minutes, 32 seconds to finish 18th in the Crimson division.
Since Reyna won her first race, the junior varsity meet at Lake Afton, she has been practicing with the guys.
“She’s capable of running with just about anybody,” Northwest coach Ron Russell said. “I think she’s starting to realize that. She doesn’t even run with our girls anymore because she’s beyond that level. She is so tough and so fast. Even when she runs with the boys, she wants to beat them too.”
Reyna made her varsity debut Sept. 21 at the Southeast Invitational, placing seventh in a race with several runners she will see at the City League meet. With only a handful of seconds separating Reyna from the top of the league’s elite, Russell doesn’t see why the freshman can’t be in the mix for the individual title come Oct. 19.
But, like any freshman, Reyna is discovering how to race a 4k.
“She’s kind of all over the map right now, but we’re excited about what she can do,” Russell said. “Here in the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be focused on winning races, not just running them well. We want her to win.”
Reyna and the Grizzlies will be in action this Saturday at the Winfield Invitational.
Prone Panthers — When talking about his teams, Derby coach Eldon Edwards had to throw a qualifier in there: Derby could be good if it stays healthy.
It’s been like that for awhile now, as Edwards is seemingly dealing with injury and illness concerns on both of teams every season.
This year it has plagued a girls team that has potential to be one of the better ones in Class 6A, but one thing or another have kept a Kaittlin Cabrin, Jordan Eickelman, Grace Mitchell, Krista Jenkins, and Katharine Doerksen from all being healthy at the same time so far this season.
“If we can get them all healthy, then our girls are really going to be a good team,” Edwards said. “But we don’t have much room for error, so we’ve got to make sure they are healthy when we need them.”
Even though injuries have affected seniors Garrett Green and Austin Thrailkill, Derby has the luxury of depth on its boys team.
But those two runners will be needed as the Panthers expect to challenge for a league title, as well as a berth to the Class 6A meet again this season.
“We’ve had all kinds of issues, and it always seems to be something,” Edwards said. “But I feel comfortable throwing several other guys in the lineup and not seeing a big dropoff. We’re going to try to get everyone healed up and ready to go by the time league and regionals start up.”
Derby’s will race in Junction City this Saturday.