Girls Cross Country Finishes Second at Regionals and Heads to Nationals


Gracie Brown and Zach Darby

The girls Cross Country team went to Heartland Regionals in South Dakota and placed second on Nov. 3. This team is the first Kansas girls team to qualify for Nike Cross Nationals in Portland. The girls will be heading to Portland, Oregon the first week of December to race at nationals. 

Senior Paige Baker, who finished with a time of 18:40.00, says she became emotional after she crossed the finish line at regionals, thinking it was could be her last race with the team.

“My favorite memory is when I crossed the finish line and I was just hugging my teammates, like we always do after races,” Baker said. “Charis and I started to get emotional because it was our last race, then Coach [Carbajo] ran up and told us that we made it to nationals because we got second, and then I started crying because of that.”

Finding out that they were headed to nationals was a moment of celebration, full of excitement and even tears. Getting to be the first Kansas girls team to compete at nationals is a significant accomplishment.

“It’s really, really exciting and I feel like Kansas cross country is not really a big deal right now, nobody really pays attention to it, so just finally getting a team out there. Everyone is really proud of us. It is a really cool thing we get to do,” Baker said.

Lots of work is being put in by these girls as they prepare and train for Portland. Training such as this takes motivation. 

“Just knowing that my teammates are counting on me a lot and I sing to myself to distract myself, like I sing in my head,” Senior Paige Baker said.

As the girls are preparing and training, their coach, Kelsey Carbajo has been by their sides the whole way through. She has been with these girls, specifically the seniors since they were freshmen. She is proud that she gets to represent Kansas with these girls.

 “Every time they step on the course they have a new goal,” Carbajo said. “I’m just super excited. They have worked super hard for this. They definitely deserve to be representing Kansas at this meet.” 

Nike Cross Nationals will be the last race that these girls will run as a team together and the last time with the seniors. 

“They rise to the occasion when they are the underdog, so just continue to have fun, keep battling, and rise to the occasion,” said Carbajo. 

As Baker prepares to run in her last race as an Owl, she offers some advice to the team.

“Don’t be afraid to push yourself, to run with faster people and don’t be afraid to get uncomfortable because running is not an easy sport, but if you really embrace it and push yourself, it will turn into a really fun sport,” Baker said.