By Greta Klein
Staff writer

Many college students probably have some type of worry or sadness when they leave home. For some, home is only an hour or two away from Hutchinson Community College. For others, home is out of state. In this case though, home is in another country.

Laura Avila, a freshman for the Blue Dragons, is the only runner not from Kansas. Avila traveled 2,605 miles, from her hometown of Medellin, Colombia, to Hutchinson.

“I like it here because it’s not a big city,” Avila said. “You have a big space to run here.”

Avila said moving to Hutch has been a new experience for her. Simple things like saying hello to someone has been a cultural change. 

“Here (in America) people say hello (as they walk by each other) but in Colombia (when) people say hello, they give each other a hug,” Avila said with an enthusiastic smile.

Even though there have been cultural differences for Avila, she still feels as close to running as she did when she was back home. 

“All of my life I practiced different sports,” Avila said. “In the past, I loved (running) but with time I start to love it more and (have) started to really appreciate it.”

Some individuals might be worried that this team doesn’t have enough diversity. Blue Dragons coach Jafet Molinares said he feels that his team is the ideal fit for this season. 

“Sometimes you get more individuals from in-state,” Molinares said. “Some years you get more international. I think that will always vary.”

Regardless of having an in-state dominant team, Molinares recognizes the importance of having international runners. 

“(Having international runners) It’s something different and it does bring some type of diversity to the team,” Molinares said. “Getting someone from an entirely different country is obviously something that’s very unique to everybody that hasn’t been part of that.”

The Blue Dragons are ranked No. 6 in the NJCAA, on a roster that includes Avila and the rest Kansas runners.

“I think rankings are one of those things that is a great representation of where you are at,” Molinares said.

The Blue Dragons’ next meet will be at 9 a.m. on Saturday in McPherson.

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