By nearly 40 full seconds, Garden City Community College’s Sandra Szpott dusted the field in the Papa John’s Invitational cross country meet on Friday in Emporia. The first-year Buster ran the 5-kilometer race on the Emporia Municipal Golf Course in a time of 18 minutes, 27.82 seconds to finish first ahead of Washburn’s Sierra Mortensen’s 19:07.36.

The top-ranked runner in the NJCAA led the Buster women to an eighth-place finish in the 14-team event. They had 216 points to first-place Newman’s 31. The top Jayhawk Conference team was Butler in second with 76 points.

On the men’s side, the Busters also finished eighth, but in a field of 18 teams. They had 272 points. Emporia State won the team title with 61, and Butler was second at 96. Oscar Guzman had the best time for the Busters, finishing the 8-kilometer course in 29:15.35.

Golf

After a morning 303 team score at the High Country Shootout in Ruidoso, N.M., Sunday, the new-look Buster golf team struggled with a second round 325 Sunday afternoon, leaving them in 10th of 11 teams with one round to play Monday morning.

“The guys really played well in the first 18,” GCCC head coach John Green said. “Great start — we showed some wonderful things. But just like last year, this tournament is a test.”

Six of the 11 schools — including Odessa, Texas’ “B” team — are ranked in the NJCAA top 20, and Green said the greens at the Links at Sierra Blanca were fast and the wind was inconsistent.

Midland leads the team leaderboard at an otherworldly minus-16 (286-274). Second-place Soutn Mountain is 17 shots back (292-285).

One of the Busters’ new faces is freshman George Avgousti, who led the Garden City squad with a plus-3 through two rounds (71-76—147). He’s tied for 16th. Returner Jordan Parsons is next for the Busters in a tie for 55th at plus-14 (73-85—158), followed by another returner in Bryce Wharton (78-82—160), and two newcomers, Evan McBride (81-82—163) and Grant Burr (84-86—170).

Women’s Soccer

While the Garden City Community College women’s soccer team is trying to take small steps forward in the progress, the NJCAA’s 19th-ranked Hutchinson Blue Dragons presented too big of a mountain Saturday at Broncbuster Stadium.

The Dragons scored four goals in the first half and two more early in the second, before lightning cut the match short just past the 70-minute mark, making it an official game and a 6-0 Hutchinson win.

The Blue Dragons remained unbeaten at 9-0 overall and 5-0 in the Jayhawk West, while the Busters dropped to 0-7 and 0-5.

Hutchinson poured in 13 shots on goal against the Busters’ Emma Parsons, who made seven saves. The Busters recorded one shot on goal.

Volleyball

After getting on the conference win board in a five-set thriller Monday at Pratt, the Garden City Busters volleyball team suffered a setback in a three-set loss at Barton Saturday afternoon.

The Busters (3-15, 1-4) were dominated in the first two sets, falling 25-12 in both, before battling in the third set, before eventually falling, 30-28, to the Cougars (10-10, 2-5).

“The girls fought back in the third set,” GCCC head coach Jacque Matula said. “I just need them to buy in quicker and believe that they can do it. We’re a good team. They have just gotta have fun and play the game they love, and things will turn around.”

The Busters were led by Shaley Tiumalu’s 12 kills, and Madison Park had 12 assists. Bailey Martinez had 21 digs. The balanced Barton squad had six players with between five and seven kills.

The Busters’ host Hutchinson Monday for their conference opener. But due to delays in the renovation of the new Conestoga Arena in the front gym, the Busters will play in the back gym of the Perryman Athletic Complex.