The Newton Invitational cross country meet Saturday at Centennial Park featured mild temperatures, light winds and, because of heavy rain the previous day, a softened course.?The Valley Center girls and Dodge City boys were the meet winners.?Valley Center topped Wichita East 42-71 for the team title, followed by Lawrence Free State in third at 73, Wamego in fourth at 119 and Newton in fifth at 138.?In the boys’ team competition, Dodge City claimed three of the top five finishers to down Western Athletic Conference rival Liberal 40-72. Class 4A power Wamego was third at 74, followed by Lawrence Free State in fourth at 129 and Buhler in fifth at 163.?There were 14 schools in competition.?Valley Center’s Morgan Wedekind won the varsity girls’ race in 14:53.82 (4,000 meters). The defending Class 5A runner-up downed Free State junior Bailey Sullivan by 51.70 seconds. Valley Center freshman Kalee Owens took third at 15:45.81.?“That’s that fastest I’ve gone this year,” Wedekind said. “That wasn’t the time I was going for, but I’m not too upset about it. (Friday’s) rain helped. It cooled things down.”?It was Wedekind’s second win at Newton. She is coming off a win last week at the Rim Rock Classic.?Wedekind led from nearly start to finish.?“I’d like to run a little faster,” she said. “ I want to keep up with some of the other runners in my class. I’m hoping we can get to state as a team. I’m not sure what to expect at state yet. I don’t really have any personal goals yet — just take it one race at a time.”?In the boys’ race, brothers Oscar and Luis Carmona of Dodge City claimed a 1-2 finish to lead the Red Demons to the team title. Oscar Carmona, a junior, won the race in 16:36.46 (5,000 meters). Luis Carmona, a sophomore, finished at 16:55.70. Liberal’s Angel Viveros was third at 17:05.06.?“It was pretty good,” Oscar Carmona said. “The course was pretty muddy in places, but it was still a good race.”?Oscar Carmona was fifth at Newton last year. He was 26th in the Class 6A state meet last year — six spots and seven seconds off a medal. Luis Carmona was 27th at state as a freshman.?Oscar Carmona said his improvement this season is due to the fact that he is running cross country full time. Last year, he ran as well as played soccer.?“I trained a lot more this year,” he said. “I think there’s a lot more of an opportunity to get a college scholarship running. I want to make it to state as a team. I want to finish in the top five as an individual. I want to break 15 minutes.”?The Newton girls claimed two medals. Freshman Sadie Winter finished fifth in 16:10.98. Sophomore Kasey Stucky was 18th in 16:55.89.?“I had a little bit of trouble breathing, but I still ran well,” Winter said. “(Conditions) were pretty much perfect. It was a little warm, but it was still pretty nice.”?Winter had her top finish of the season at the Newton race.?“At the end, (the pack) kind of thinned out,” Winter said. “I had to finish hard. There was someone trying to catch me.”?Winter credited her brother and father for getting her involved in cross country.?“I’d really like to go to state this year,” Winter said. “I was 84th last week (at state course Rim Rock). I liked running there. It was hard. By the end of the race, my legs were burning. I just have to keep working hard.”?The top finisher for the boys was junior Corey Helsper, who finished 38th in 18:31.56, 45.02 seconds out of medal contention. Newton’s top six finishers were all within 20 places and 15.52 seconds of each other.?“If the girls can close the gap from one to five, they are going to have a very competitive team,” Newton coach Richard Mick said. “Sadie showed what she can do. She got right out front and stayed there.?“From what I saw of the boys, they competed better than they have all season. They need to move that pack up 20 or 30 seconds, and they will be right there with some of the best teams in the state. This was a very competitive meet for the boys. The teams like Wamego, Dodge City, Wichita North and Lawrence Free State are very good.”?Newton competes Saturday at the El Dorado Invitational at El Dorado State Park, followed by league, regional and state.