HESSTON — In a meet that featured more than 50 teams and more than 900 runners, a pair of area teams claimed top finishes Thursday at the Swather Special.
The Halstead boys won the Class 3-2-1A boys’ title for the fourth straight year, while the Berean Academy girls finished second in the Class 3-2-1A girls’ division.
The Halstead boys posted a score of 18, beating Hutchinson Trinity at 42 and Southeast of Saline at 43.
Top finishes for the Halstead boys went to Dakota Blaylock (4th, senior, 18:38.2), Peyton Carr (5th, senior, 18:50.8), Neil Owens (8th, senior, 19:22.2), Josh Talbott (2nd, junior, 17:55.0), Andrew O’Brien (4th, junior, 18:39.6), Isaac Radke (7th, sophomore, 19:40.4) and Hayden Davis (4th, freshman, 19:31.1).
“We lost our top three runners from last year, but this group is focused,” Halstead coach Curtis Vermillion said. “They wanted to make a statement for themselves. Today, they went out and showed they are capable of doing well. I’m proud of their efforts. We just have to stay healthy. I know we haven’t run our best yet, but I saw a lot of good things out there. Kingman is a great team, Hugoton is a great team. We just have to go out there and work hard. It’s a good day for us. The kids deserved this. I’m happy for them.”
Other top finishers for the boys include Garrison Harris of Sedgwick (3rd, junior, 18:32.0), Trey Topham of Berean Academy (1st, freshman, 18:24.4), Johnny Yang of Hesston (2nd, freshman, 18:26.9).
In the 3-2-1A girls’ team standings, Douglass, Berean Academy and Beloit all tied with 10 points. Douglass took the Warriors on the second tie-breaker 14-12. Beloit was third on the second tie-breaker.
The Berean Academy girls were led by Erin Topham, who won the junior girls’ race in 20:21.6, the top time for all 3-2-1A runners. The only female runner with a faster time was Claire Winter of Bishop Carroll, who won the 6-5-4A junior girls’ race in 20:11.4.
“It was pretty hard,” Topham said. “It was hot out there and I hurt a lot.”
It was her first race at 5,000-meters this season, running two miles last week at the Clearwater Invitational.
Topham placed in the top of five at Class 2A state in each of the last two years. She said she’s hoping to meet or better that finish this year.
“I want to do better than last year, and have a better time,” she said.
Other top finishers for the Berean girls include Brooke Wiebe (4th, sophomore, 22:13.5), Miranda Wiebe (5th, freshman, 24:15.1),
“I’m very proud of the way the girls ran today,” Berean coach Lewis Wiebe said. “They only score three runners for the girls here, so that helps us. We ran well against some 6A, 5A and 4A runners. We’ve been working hard all year, and I hope that we can continue to improve.”
The longtime track coach at Berean, Wiebe took over the cross country team after Mark Anderson stepped down after a long tenure.
“I’ve always enjoyed coaching the middle distance runners in track,” Lewis Wiebe said. “This is a great group to work with.”
Other top area finishers for the girls include Mallory Croxton of Sedgwick (6th, senior, 22:58.3), Abby Weber of Hesston (9th, senior, 24:01.2), Lydia Johnson of Halstead (3rd, junior, 23;16.1), Kaia Seibert of Halstead (9th, junior, 24:00.9), Hannah Ferguson of Hesston (5th, sophomore, 23:29.0), Parker Schroeder of Sedgwick (7th, freshman, 24:37.7).
The Newton High School boys’ team finished sixth out of 16 teams scoring in the Class 6-5-4A competition. Great Bend won the team title at 47, followed by Garden City at 58 and Liberal at 69. Newton scored 90 points.
The Railer girls were eighth out of 14 teams that scored. Bishop Carroll won at 17 points, followed by Great Bend at 22 and Garden City at 24.
The Newton boys were led by Garrett Mick, who finished second in the senior boys’ race at 16:52.6, 4.7 seconds behind Wichita Collegiate’s Lakelin Conrad. Erik Brown was sixth at 17:37.2.
Garrett Mick’s time was third best among all boys at the meet.
“That was about my best run here,” Garrett Mick said. “I was really happy. I almost beat (Conrad). He’s really good. He’s the top-ranked runner in the Wichita area. It was a lot of fun. The weather cooled off, which was really nice. At Manhattan, I ran a really good time considering all the hills there. Today, I ran a 16:51 or 52, which would be a new PR. The start of my senior year has been really good. That would be my first PR since my sophomore year.”
Garrett Mick said he didn’t run a single road race in the summer, but he did start training for cross country just a couple of weeks after the end of the track season.
“We’ve been training since mid-June,” he said. “I’ve pretty much been running all year.”
Another top finish went to Erik Jantz, who took eighth in the freshman boys’ race in 18:19.0.
Top finishes for the Newton girls include Alaina Stucky, who finished third in the junior girls’ race in 22:48.8, followed by Lylia Fernandez in fourth in 22:52.3 and Megan Bartel in sixth in 23:05.4.
There were a lot of bright spots,” Newton coach Richard Mick said. “Garrett was running right behind Lakin Conrad. Erik Brown was right behind him, where he has been all season. Erik Jantz ran a good race today. For the girls, Alaina Stucky, Lylia Fernandez, Megan Bartel and Elaina Bergquist all ran good races. We had a lot of people who were injured and didn’t run Saturday who were able to come back and run today. We’re going to get better as those runners are able to train more.”
Newton and Berean compete Thursday at the Buhler Invitational. Halstead and Hesston compete Thursday at the Centre Invitational at the Herington Golf Course. Sedgwick, Burrton and Goessel compete Thursday at the Bennington Invitational. Burrton also competes Saturday at the Wamego Invitational.