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Inside NXN: What it Takes to Build Elite-Level Teams

NXN-Qualifying Team Coaches

Kelsey Carbajo- Olathe West HS, Kansas 

Coach Carbajo was the 2023 Kansas Coach of the Year guiding the girls team to their 4th straight Cross Country State Championship and 2nd trip to NXN. In addition to the cross country success, Coach Carbajo led the girls to their 4th straight 4x800 state championship and the boys to their first 4x8 state championship this past spring. The girls currently hold the fastest 4x8 time in the state of Kansas at 9:02.69. In addition to the high school success, many of the athletes have gone on to have incredible careers at the collegiate level. Over the 6 year span, Coach Carbajo has built a winning culture, on and off the course/track. She emphasizes a team-first approach while having fun and making as many memories as possible. The team becomes an extension of each runner's family, doing everything they can with love for one another.


Andy Derks- Plainview North HS, Illinois 

Derks has been coaching at Plainfield North High School since 2011, and has been Head Boys XC Coach since 2014. In cross country, his boys team have qualified for state 5 times, including a 4th place team finish in 2022 and 2nd place last year in 2023 for 3A in Illinois (the largest division). The boys went on to place 2nd in the NXR Midwest meet and placed 15th at NXN with a lineup that included 4 sophomores.  Derks' girls team placed 17th at state in 2023, the best finish in school history, and finished as an "All-Region" team at NXR Midwest.  Individually, his boys have had a runner place in the top 5 at the state XC meet each of the last two years. In track, his boys 4x8 placed 3rd in the state meet running 7:41, lowering the school record by 12-seconds. The girls team also finished All-State, placing 8th and running 9:17, which was 20-sec faster than previous year's school record.  Derks is fortunate to get to coach with amazing assistant coaches in XC (Sam Barranco, Roxanne Hall, and Emilie Hatzl), and work with an amazing Head Track Coach in the spring (Tony Holler).

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