On a crisp, cool October morning, the Newton High School cross country teams claimed a fifth-place finish for the girls and a sixth-place finish for the boys Saturday at the Newton Invitational at Centennial Park.
In the girls' team competition, Lawrence Free State won the team title with a score of 24, followed by Valley Center at 78, Washburn Rural at 100, Wichita East at 129 and Newton at 145.
In the boys' team competition, Free State edged Washburn Rural 53-77, followed by Wichita North at 90, Liberal at 94 and Wamego at 142. Newton scored 190.
"Our team goals coming in today were for both teams to finish in the top five," Newton coach Richard Mick said. "We got really close to that. I thought we gave a great effort. I'm encouraged. There's a lot that we can take away from this and build on in the weeks coming up."
The Railer girls claimed three medals, led by Ashlyn Glann in 11th at 16:06.81 (4,000 meters). Sadie Winter was 12th at 16:07.72. Kasey Stucky was 16th at 16:16.85.
Elyse Bergquist was 54th in 17:28.31, followed by Ashley Akers in 67th in 18:12.59, Ashlynn Hamm in 74th in 18:41.72 and Junuen Lujano in 80th in 19:25.91.
"Kasey, Ashlyn and Sadie all ran quality races today," Mick said. "This meet has really grown. We've got some really good teams here. I'm happy with the way the kids responded."
For the Railer boys, Thomas Kelso claimed a medal, taking 15th in 17:14.15 (5,000 meters). Robert Loeffler finished two spots and 1.78 seconds out of a medal, placing 22nd in 17:28.84.
Sam Blaufuss was 37th in 17:51.72, followed by Jacey Friesen in 57th in 18:32.37, Jason Granados in 67th in 19:05.87, Jack Polley in 70th in 19:11.56 and Brennan Miller in 75th in 19:36.53.
"For both teams, boys and girls, we have to close the gap from our first two or three runners to four, five, six and seven," Mick said. "If we can make that happen, we're going to have some really good things happen. That's the key for us."
Newton returns to Centennial Park in three weeks for the Class 5A regional.
"We'll be excited to host regional," Mick said. "It's a good course. The kids like it. It's spectator friendly. I hope we can get one or both teams qualified for state."
Newton travels to the El Dorado Invitational Saturday at El Dorado State Park, then competes at league at Valley Center.
"We're going to do some speed work this week," Mick said. "When we do that, we'll have some times drop."
In the girls' race, Free State claimed the first three spots. Bailey Sullivan won the race in 14:53.15, .73 seconds ahead of Emily Venters. Claire Sanner was third at 14:54.75.
Page 2 of 2 - "I know it was a PR for me," Sullivan said. "It wasn't too bad. The wind was a little annoying. The cold was nice. It's nice not to be hot for once. I'm running pretty well. I was second here last year, so it was nice to win. Morgan Wedekind (of Valley Center) graduated, so that opened things up."
Sullivan took 20th in Class 6A state last year.
"We have a really strong team this year," Sullivan said. "We have a freshman and a sophomore who are amazing runners. They've beaten me most of the year. We're going to try and win a trophy at state. I'd like to finish in the top 10."
In the boys' race, Wichita North's J'Quon Williams pulled ahead of Liberal's Sammy Obando to claim the win. Williams finished in 16:36.22, 1.69 seconds ahead of Obando. Ryan Liston of Free State took third in 16:48.28.
"I like running in this kind of weather," Williams said. "It was a lot like this at state last year. I got sixth at Rim Rock. I had a knee injury — tendonitis. I'm just starting to come back from that. I'm starting to feel better right now. My time wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. I felt like I could go faster. It turned out pretty good — first place."
Williams said he's shooting for a top place at state.
"I want to win City League, beat Manhattan at regionals and hopefully win state," Williams said.