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Fastest freshman helped by other LDS on team

PHELAN, Calif. — Kauren Tarver has had a great run at Serrano High School, even though she is only halfway through her freshman year. The Mia Maid from the Wrightwood Ward, Hesperia California Stake, burned up cross country courses during a successful 2004 season, according to her coach and former bishop, Ken Quinn.

Kauren won the Division II California State High School championship in Fresno, Calif., in November, then finished in the top 20 in a national meet in December.

Kauren quickly started drawing attention in cross-country circles as she won race after race at Serrano, leading up to the best time by 10 seconds in the state finals.

The week after her state championship, she ran in the Footlocker Western Regionals, in which she finished sixth and qualified for the national championships the following week in San Diego. There, she finished 16th out of the 40 runners invited from around the country. She was the fastest of the five freshmen in the race, "so she is officially the fastest freshman in America," according to her coach. Following the season, she was named All-Mojave River League, All-Area, All-California Interscholastic Federal, All-State, and All-American.

Coach Quinn couldn't keep the spotlight from shining on Kauren, but credited much of her success to outstanding teammates, four of six who are also members of the Church — Kauren's sister, Lauren Tarver, and Ashlyann Rodriguez of the Wrightwood Ward; and Amanda Castro and Diana Medina of the Phelan Ward.

The five attend early-morning seminary every day, their coach said, while doing well academically. And, he added, they love serving others.

"They are kind and humble and have strong testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ," he said. "That love of Christ shows through in the way they treat each other and runners from opposing schools. They never made the (other) runners on the team feel left out or excluded from anything. In fact, they were simply great examples to these teammates of gospel living."

Pacing Kauren and the rest to success, including a third-place finish in the state team competition, was Amanda, the only senior on the team, who has run cross country for four years at Serrano. Coach Quinn said Amanda took it upon herself to help the talented but young runners on the team — sophomores and freshmen — learn how to compete at the high school level. Amanda, who is on track to be a four-year seminary graduate, was an excellent team leader and gathered the others together for a prayer before each race. "She didn't mind when one or two of them would beat her on a particular day because she saw the big picture and realized how good that made the team," the coach said, adding that she is good enough herself that she is being recruited to run on the college level.

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