BUFFALOES BOYS/GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY: Sept. 2, 2020
Head Coach: Krista Linenberger (23rd season)
In 2019, the Garden City Buffaloes cross country teams had their share of late-season heroics as the boys captured the WAC title by just two points over Great Bend and three points in front of Dodge City in one of the closest races in recent history.
The 2020 season will begin on Thursday, Sept. 3, at the Great Bend Invitational.
Gone from that Buffalo squad is individual league medalist Ethan Fisher.
On the girls side, the Lady Buffs struggled as a team, placing fourth at the WAC, but did have a breakout season from then freshman Jocelyn Sosa, who placed second at the league meet, then won the 6A regional in Wichita before placing 23rd at the Class 6A state meet.
Veteran coach Krista Linenberger enters her 23rd season at the program’s helm and she will have to find runners to replace Destiny Avila, Kaety Kohlhost and Anna Casados on the girls side and Austin Hess, Jeremy Garcia and Santiago on the boys side.
In addition to Sosa, Lineneberger will look to junior Andrea Hernandez, who placed 28th in the league, and 31st at regionals. Kiera Hageman, now a sophomore, showed early promise before being injured and missed most of the last portion of 2019, but is now back and healthy.
For the boys, Linenberger will look to four varsity returners for leadership and improved performances. That group includes senior Brody Hoff, who was 10th, 13th and 62nd at WAC, regionals and state. A pair of sophomores had strong freshman seasons – Devin Chappel (11th, 20th, 81st) and Evan Gurrola (13th, 25th, 90th). Junior Kenji Craig rounds out that group of varsity returners (23rd, 47th, 100th). Newcomers expected to battle for varsity spots are senior Emilio Arteaga and junior Isaiah Casados, both of whom ran JV in 2019.
“We will struggle to find a strong seven early into the season,” Linenberger said. “But I am convinced we will have a solid five by later in the season for the boys. We have a couple of new girls who will help Jocelyn for sure. Keeping Kiera healthy is key also.”
The experienced gained in 2019 will be invaluable to the Buffs, Linenberger said.
“We were young last year and relatively inexperienced at the varsity level,” she said. “More maturity and tight packing will be extremely important for us this season.”
2020 Schedule: Sept. 3—at Great Bend Inv.; Sept. 10—at Hesston; Sept. 17—at Hays Inv.; Sept. 26—Open, TBD ; Oct. 3—at Newton Inv.; Oct. 10—at El Dorado Inv.; Oct. 15—WAC, at Liberal; Oct. 24—Class 6A Regionals, TBD; Oct. 31—Class 6A State, Lawrence-Rim Rock Farm.