Mayes to represent Lansing at state cross country meet
Topeka Ashley Mayes didn't always have a strong kick at the end of cross country races.
In fact, during her four-year varsity running career at Lansing High, Mayes rarely was one to make a late charge.
She learned to push herself through pain at the Kaw Valley League meet this year, however, and her 13th-place finish there served as the springboard for what she would do Saturday at the Class 5A regional meet at Shawnee North Community Center.
"Since KVL, the way I've been running has changed," she said. "My mental approach changed completely. I learned to get through the pain and run smarter."
At regionals, Mayes was running in 24th place with 200 meters to go. A chilly drizzle and a bitter breeze were only part of the misery the runners endured on the course. Patches of sloppy mud made footing tough. The race was grueling in all aspects.
Mayes' body was ready to quit, but - just like the week before - her mind wouldn't let her. Not this time.
There, just a few strides ahead of her, were Jenna Blanton of Emporia and Lindsey Parker of Salina South.
"There were these two girls, and I knew that the more people I passed, the closer I could get to state," Mayes said. "I knew if I could just pass them, I'd have a shot."
Mayes went after Blanton first. Then she surged past Parker. She held both off by a matter of feet as they charged across the finish line. Mayes placed 22nd in 13:52. Parker and Blanton were one second behind.
Turns out, Mayes' late push was worth the effort. She was the last individual qualifier to earn a trip to state. If she'd been one second slower, her season would be finished right now. Instead, she'll be Lansing's lone representative at the Class 5A state meet when she runs at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence.
Ironically, Mayes qualified for state this year the same way she did as a freshman - as the final individual qualifier. She also went to state as a sophomore when the team qualified. She missed last year, though, when she got sick midway through the season and never fully recovered.
"It felt really awkward not going last year after going my first two years," she said.
Mayes said she will savor her final state appearance, as will coach Errol Logue. Logue said he was proud of Mayes for devoting four years to the program, and he said he was pleased that she would end her career at state.
"She's been so good for us," he said. "She organized our summer running program. She's been a good leader. She's worked hard all year round. I'm very happy for her. It's a good reward for her after all of the work she put in."
MORE FROM REGIONALS
Mayes was the lone girl to qualify for state, but senior Erin Eustice came close. She placed 26th in 14:00. Freshman Briana Zak placed 55th in 17:00 and sophomore Elizabeth Parks was 56th in 19:03.
For the Lansing boys, sophomore Griffin Davis again led the way. He placed 42nd overall in 19:16. Davis would have needed to run 18:10 - a 34-second improvement over his personal best - to qualify for state.
"I was really hoping I'd do better," Davis said, admitting he'd put some pressure on himself to qualify for state. "I was hoping to finish the season with a big bang and make it to state, but it didn't happen."
Rounding out the boys' runners were freshman Matt McCurry (50th, 20:19), sophomore Jim Mayes (52nd, 20:25), freshman Wes Appleget (56th, 20:50), freshman Trenton Dorf (58th, 22:08), senior Jason Gibson (61st, 22:22) and freshman A.J. Glowacki (64th, 23:03).