There were some positives and some things to work on for the Newton High School cross country teams Saturday at the Newton Invitational at Centennial Park.
The Railer boys finished eighth in the 14-team field, while the Railer girls were 11th. Newton runners claimed three medals in the varsity races.
Garden City won the girls’ title with 96 points, followed by Buhler at 116, Valley Center at 134, Liberal at 139 and Wichita North at 142. Newton scored 220 points.
Wichita North won the boys’ team title at 88 points, followed by Garden City at 91, Andover at 122, Wichita East at 124 and Andover Central at 125. Newton scored 177 points.
Emilee Endsley of Wichita East won the girls’ race in 19:57.37, followed by Alyssa Nelson of Goddard Eisenhower at 20:10.84 and Brooke Navarro of Garden City in third at 20:11.71.
Asher Moen of Andover won the boys’ race in 16:43.11, followed by Cale Carson of El Dorado in second in 16:51.71 and Michael Iyali of Wichita North in third at 16:52.14.
“We need to start closing the gap between our first three runners and the rest of the group,” Newton coach Richard Mick said. “That’s what a lot of coaches say at this time of the year. We have to keep working. Our girls started a little too aggressive today. They were in good position after the first mile and and a half. They went a little backward from there. … We have to be a little bit smarter. With the boys, we didn’t run a bad race. We have some talented kids. We need to get four, five and six closer to one, two and three.”
The Newton boys were led by Garrett Mick, who finished in fifth in 16:59.18. Erik Jantz claimed the 20th medal in 17:30.84.
“It felt great,” Garrett Mick said. “Fifth place, I can’t complain. The weather was nice. It helps that I’m really familiar with this course. I’m excited we come back here for regionals, because this is one of the faster courses.”
Garrett Mick said he expects to start doing more speed work in practice in the last two weeks before regionals.
Erik Brown finished 23rd in 17:30.84, three spots out of a medal. Eli Blaufuss finished in 65th in 18:46.81. Luke Schmidt was 68th in 18:55.34. Jonah Hodge was 72nd in 19:04.18. Antonio Negrete was 74th in 19:09.90.
“Garrett ran well,” Richard Mick said. “He had some tough competition from some pretty good 6A and 5A schools. I know he would have like to run faster. Erik Jantz ran well again. Erik Brown didn’t run as well as he would have liked. Those three have been consistent all year. The others need to pick up the pace.”
The Railer girls were led by Alaina Stucky, who finished seventh in 20:41.11 to claim a medal.
“That felt pretty good, but my mouth is pretty dry,” Stucky said. “The shin sleeve really helped my shin splints a lot. Beautiful weather. That was a big factor. It started warming up later in the meet and that relaxed my nerves. That gave me time to get focused.”
Stucky suffered heat illness at the season opener Manhattan Invitational, but she said she has been improving as the season went along.
“I got heat stroke right before the finish line,” Stucky said. “I was on pace for a hefty PR. I fell down within 20 meters of the finish line. I feel like I’m picking it up and in range for a PR.
“I can’t let the heat stroke get in my head. I have to keep pushing. I want to medal in the top 15 at state and PR. It doesn’t matter if its at Rim Rock or in the next two weeks, I want a PR. I want my whole team to go to state. The last two years, I had to go by myself. It would be a lot more fun to go as a team.”
Megan Bartel finished 40th in 22:26.02, followed by Lylia Fernandez in 42nd in 22:28.18, Jaden Anton in 47th in 22:48.90, Elaina Bergquist in 84th in 25:38.87 and Hailey Million in 86th in 27:33.08.
Newton competes Saturday at the El Dorado Invitational, followed by the AV-CTL I meet Oct. 14 and regionals Oct. 21 at Centennial Park.
“We’re really excited about hosting regionals again,” Mick said. “What needs to happen, we need for everyone to keep coming to practice with a positive attitude, keep challenging each other. We need some friendly competition to improve on some of those spots. If we do that, we’ll keep getting better and better.”