Were it not for L.D. Bell cross country, Araya Fetters and Makenzie Reeves might have never met.
Each admits they have different personalities, Fetters being the more outgoing of the two and Reeves the more reserved.
But once they became teammates, something clicked.
“Because they spent so much time together in sports, the friendship developed,” said head coach Gerald Smith.
Never miss a local story.
“That’s a lifelong friendship.”
When Fetters competed in Monday’s Class 6A Region I Meet, Reeves was right there. The goal was for the two to compete together, but Fetters was the lone Bell qualifier from District 7-6A, reaching regionals for a fourth straight year.
“It always helps to have your best friend there,” Fetters said.
And Reeves was there when Fetters was battling back from an injury last season. Though Fetters did compete and qualified for regionals, she was not at her top speed.
“It helped a lot, with her being there pushing me along,” Fetters said.
Reeves said she never doubted her friend would return to full form.
“I was encouraging her and felt it was helping,” Reeves said. “I’m so excited for her. I really like watching her run.”
The two met as freshmen and became friends almost instantly. Each is the ying to the other’s yang.
“I think it improves the overall chemistry of the team,” Smith said. “When kids see this kind of chemistry, collectively, all those places come together and you’re fighting as a team.
“They do a lot of organizing and getting things together for the whole team.”
Smith said Fetter’s return to full strength motivated Reeves to improve, which in turn inspired Fetters.
“Makenzie knew she had to get to a certain level or she was going to be letting Araya and the team down, and that motivated Araya.
“I preach getting faster and overcoming limitations. Araya could see Makenzie doing that, and it pushed her to do even more.”
While she did not reach regionals, Reeves did drop her time by four minutes.
“That’s impressive. She’s becoming stronger each week,” Fetters said.
The two friends will also compete together in track in the spring. Then, after that, it’s off to college – the same college.
They both plan to attend Oklahoma State University and try to walk on to the cross country team.
“I’m super awkward, so I would feel a little uneasy,” Reeves said with a chuckle. “Having Araya there will make it a lot smoother.”
To which Fetters added, in her usual upbeat style, “It’s going to be exciting. Having each other around will make it all a more thrilling experience.
“I can’t wait.”