For the summer, Lincoln (Kan.)
junior Jenna Farris
maps out a calendar that details practice and workout schedules for her three sports: cross country, basketball and track. It's a juggling act for Farris, one of Kansas' top all-around athletes. Normally, she runs in the mornings and then lifts weights.
Farris usually doesn't run on the weekends, because she has a basketball tournament, and she doesn't go for a run when she has basketball practice. She still managed to log approximately 500 miles and play well on several summer teams.
"It was kind of confusing when you have all this stuff, and then some things happen that you don't plan for, but for the most part, it's pretty easy getting up and going for a run, and then you are done for the rest of the day," she said. "Then later on, you can shoot or do whatever else you have to do."
Farris' work ethic has formed the foundation for her success at Lincoln, a town of 1,297 people located in north-central Kansas. She is a three-time All-State cross country runner and has won back-to-back Class 2A state championships.
In track, Farris has twice won the 3,200-meter run at state and finished second and third in the 1,600-meter run. In basketball, she averaged 24 points per contest in her freshman and sophomore seasons and is averaging 26 points per game through the first three contests in the 2011-12 season.
"That work ethic and that drive is definitely one of the things that sets her apart," Steve Crist, Lincoln's coach in cross country, girls' basketball and track, said. "I would say very close behind that with Jenna is her personality. She doesn't really act like she is really gifted athlete. She is very down to Earth and just loved by all the other kids here. I don't think there is much jealousy or anything there because of the way that Jenna holds herself. She has got such a tremendous personality along with the success that she has had."
This summer, Farris played on the Waconda Lakers, a team that consists of top players in central Kansas. The squad went 14-6, including 3-2 at the Mid-America Youth Basketball national tournament in Oklahoma and competed with the Twin Lakes Stars at the Miss Basketball Showcase tournament in Kearney, Neb. She averaged 14 points per contest and earned All-American honors, one of 40 from the pool of 600 players.
Farris is uncertain what sport she would like to play in college, but has received looks for running and basketball. She would like to compete at a Division I level.
"I am pretty sure I want to play basketball in college," she said. "I am going to kind of try and see how the rest of the year goes."
Growing up, Farris always played basketball in the summers on AAU and MAYB teams and would often head to Lincoln's grade school and work on her skills, a practice she still continues today. When Farris entered her freshman year, Crist knew she was a talented player, but was uncertain how much Farris could contribute. The answer came quickly. In her third game, Farris scored 34 of the team's 45 points in a 21-point victory against Russell.
"Just kind of an explosion of points," Crist said. "She showed all the ways at once that she can score, getting steals and going in for layups, receiving a fast break pass and going for a layup and creating her own shot, or hitting a 3-pointer."
Russell led 15-12 at halftime, but Farris took over after intermission and helped Lincoln outscore Russell 33-9 the rest of the game. After the contest, Crist sat down and looked at the scorebook.
"Thought 'Wow, she was a lot farther advanced than what I thought she was going to be,'" he said.
Farris had one single-digit scoring contest all season and received statewide attention for her performance in the sub-state. She scored 45 points versus Clifton-Clyde in a 62-57 victory and 36 against Bern in a 52-48 win that qualified Lincoln for the state tournament for the first time since 1990. She finished the season averaging 23.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and four steals per game and earned third team All-State honors in Class 1A, one of two Kansas freshman girls recognized.
The state basketball appearance gave Farris a lift for track. She eventually scored 18 points at the state meet, including a first-place finish in the 3,200 (11 minutes, 53.21 seconds) and second in the 1,600 (5:20.99).
"Just kind of got me motivated and really got me ready for track season," she said. "I knew my times could improve, and I knew I could do better. I just worked that much harder."
In the 2010 cross country season, Farris won the state meet in 15:33.16, more than two minutes faster than she ran as a freshman at the state meet -- and the fourth-best time in Class 2A history, according to Kansas sports historian Carol Swenson's book "A History of the KSHSAA State Cross Country Championships." Farris' brother, James, a senior, collected the Class 2A boys crown, too.
"It was great," Farris said. "I remember talking about it when I was in eighth grade and my brother was in high school, and we talked about it about how me and him could win it before he graduates high school. It was a good year going into it and then watching him win the race, just kind of got me pumped up for my race because they ran right before we did."
Farris posted another strong season in basketball - 23.5 points, five rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.5 assists per game - for a 16-6 Leopard squad in 2010-11. She had five 30-point contests and earned first team All-State honors.
"There is no girl that can wear her out," Natoma coach Aaron Homburg said. "You can't stick a girl on her and say, 'Hey, just stick with it, you'll be fine, we will wear her out.' No, that isn't going to happen. She is a champion state cross country runner. You don't run her into the ground."
In track last spring, Farris earned three state medals, including a championship in the 3,200 (11:37.01). She also finished third in the 1,600 and seventh in the 800.
"I love running, and it's nice to get a break and then go into basketball because I really love basketball, too," she said. "Then you do all that, and then you go right in track season. It's nice having that break, but also that you love both sports."
Even with all the honors, Farris hasn't stopped working. After her busy summer, she came back to school and won her second cross country title. She often practiced twice a day, running before and after school.
"She puts in a lot of miles on the weekends," Crist said. "For cross country, we usually practice in the morning because we have kids doing two sports, so that makes them available for whatever sport in the afternoon. Jenna will come run with us in the morning. Then, she will go run in the afternoon after school."
For basketball, Farris will often run through a set of drills on ballhandling and shooting. She tries to make game-like situations in practice and works on shooting as quickly as possible. It's already helped her improve in 3-point shooting: She shot 31 percent from beyond the arc as a sophomore, but has opened the 2011-12 season shooting 44 percent (8-of-18) on treys.
The improvement is part of Farris' strong work ethic, a drive that has kept her as one of Kansas' best athletes.
"There a lot of other people that work hard out there and I know that I should work hard for what I get," she said. "I know that there is always going to be someone else out there just as good or better."Conor Nicholl is a sportswriter for the Hays (Kan.) Daily
News. He may be reached at email@example.com.