The Newton High School boys’ cross country team finished fifth, while the Railer girls were sixth Saturday at the 16-team Newton Invitational at Centennial Park.
Andover won the boys’ team title at 56 points, followed by Wichita East at 70 and Maize South at 86. Newton scored 140 points.
Maize South won the girls’ team title at 47, followed by Wichita East at 75 and Goddard Eisenhower at 85. Newton scored 171 points.
“This was a very competitive meet,” Newton coach Richard Mick said. “The girls were more aggressive. That’s what we wanted them to do, especially our three freshmen competing varsity. We wanted them to stay closer to our no. 1 and 2 runners, and I thought they did that. Elia (Bergquist) really closed the gap between Ashley (Salgado) and Emma (Mayes). For the guys, our top four are pretty solid. There are some very good teams here, so it’s a little bit deceiving. Our top four boys got a little more spread out than they have been. Erik might have went out a little too fast maybe. He was leading at about 800 meters. That’s OK. At this time of the year, we want them putting themselves in races and give us a chance.”
Ryan Kinnane of Andover won the boys’ varsity race in 16:20.18, 16.16 seconds ahead of Michael Iyali of Wichita North. Austin Fullerton of Goddard Eisenhower was third at 16:55.34.
Kinnane won the race last year.
“It was pretty windy, so I started out behind people,” Kinnane said. “I picked it up after the first mile. The second mile, I picked it up some more. In the last 800, I really kicked it in. I tried to push to get the biggest lead I could. The time is about my second fastest of the year behind Rim Rock. I was about a second faster here than last year. It was a lot faster meet last week. I thought it would be more wet than it was. It was more wet last year.”
Kinnane was fourth at state last year in Class 5A, the top non-senior finisher.
“I’d like to win state and get under 16 minutes,” he said.
Newton claimed two medals. Erik Jantz was 13th in 17:38.74. Widly Nocenti was 18th at 17:46.58.
Eli Blaufuss finished four spots out of medal contention in 24th in 17:54.62.
Alexa Rios of Maize South won the girls’ varsity race in 19:44.34, winning by 63 seconds over Jadyn Pavlik of Eisenhower. Eva McKinzie of Wichita East was third at 20:51.05.
“I feel pretty OK about the time,” Rios said. “I feel like when I’m by myself, it’s not that great. It’s not like at Rim Rock, where there are people around me and I have to pick it up. I was able to get under 19 there. (The course) wasn’t that bad. There were some bumps and some mud, but it evaporated pretty quickly.”
Rios was seventh in Class 5A at state last year.
“I feel like I can finish higher if I pick it up,” she said.
The sole medalist for the Railer girls was Ashley Salgado, who took 20th in 22:20.18. Ella Mayes was three spots out of medal contention in 23rd in 22:30.99. Elia Bergquist was 29th in 22:52.52.
“The challenge is for us is to close the gap between no. 1 and 5,” Mick said. “If we can continue to do that, we’ll be competitive. This is a very competitive meet with 16 teams. You have teams like Maize South, Andover, Wichita North, all very traditionally competitive teams.”
Newton is off until the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I Championships Oct. 18 (note date change) at Bill Burke Park in Salina.
“We started taking a bye,” Mick said. “A lot of teams are starting to take some extra rest. Whether that’s good or bad, last year was the first year we did it. Last year, it helped our older kids get their bodies rested up and get them a little more fresh.”