Unusual day at Swather Special

Mark Schnabel
Newton junior Alexander Barnet takes second in his section of the Swather Special.

HESSTON — The weather and COVID-19 made for a lot of changes at the 2020 Swather Special cross country meet Thursday at the Hesston Golf Course.

The virus meant the meet was run in seven six-team sections, although the traditional scoring and medals were done as in previous years — by school classification and the runner’s grade.

The weather forced a late course change that put much of the race on concrete golf cart paths instead of grass.

In the Class 3-2-1A boys team competition, Smoky Valley downed Southeast of Saline 15-23, while Berean Academy was third at 36. Hesston was sixth at 62, followed by Halstead at 68, Goessel in 11th at 100 and Moundridge in 12th at 104.

The Berean boys were led by Andrew Harder, who took second among sophomore boys in 16:40.8. He also took second in his section behind a runner from Garden City.

“I was really excited. It went really good,” Harder said. “We have a great team. (The cart paths) were a little challenging because I wore spikes. I prefer the course we had last year.”

Harder missed state last year because of an injury.

“I fractured my growth plate halfway through the season, so I didn’t get to run,” Harder said. “I’m excited about running this year. I just want to please God with what I do. However I do, I’ll be happy with.”

“The boys ran well,” Berean coach Lewis Wiebe said. “The girls did too. Our guys are a lot stronger. We had some good improvement over last week. The course is a little shorter this year, so our times are a lot better than last week. You have to run on whatever you’ve got.”

Berean will run next week at the Buhler Invitational.

Halstead’s Hayden Davis finished fourth in his section behind three Southeast of Saline runners. He finished fifth among senior boys in 17:03.3.

“I thought it was amazing with the weather and everything,” Davis said. “Obviously our team didn’t do great placing, but I felt great and our team has been working hard all year. I liked it better on the concrete, because it was a little more flat. I had a 17:03, which is a PR by 27 seconds.”

Davis was 47th at state last year.

“I’m just really happy with the way we competed today — girls and guys both,” Halstead coach Curtis Vermillion said. “If you’re going to get to state, you have to get through these guys. I have to give credit to Southeast. They are loaded for bear. We just wanted to get out and run today and do the best we can. I’m so proud of our kids, top to bottom.”

In the Class 3-2-1A girls team standings, Southeast of Saline downed Minneapolis 6-10. Sacred Heart was third at 13. Berean Academy was fifth at 24, Halstead was 10th at 31, Hesston was 17th at 49 and Goessel was 20th at 77.

Hesston junior Elsie Clark won her section and finished third among junior girls in 20:42.9.

“It was a good day to race, for sure,” Clark said. “It was cooler and I run better in cooler weather. I saw Newton when I was lining up, and I got a little nervous. It was a good day to race. I’ve run on cart paths my freshman year, when it was really wet. It was good. It was a little hard on my shins, but you get through it.”

Clark was a state qualifier as a freshman at Goessel.

“I couldn’t run varsity last year,” she said. “I’m hoping to make it back to state. I’ve never run at Rim Rock before. I PR’d today, so that was one goal. I’d like to get to state and beat my time from this meet.”

“I think we looked pretty good,” Hesston coach Nealee Johnston said. “My top girl runner is doing really well. I’m happy she gets to run varsity this year. It’s just a good group of guys who ran a lot of miles in the summer. Our first seven were pretty tight. Times looked really good today. Weather conditions were really good for running. Last week, it was hot and windy. I’ll take the simple improvements.”

Halstead and Hesston both compete Thursday at the Centre Invitational in Herington. Moundridge, Goessel, Burrton and Sedgwick run Thursday at Bennington.

In the Class 6-5-4A boys competition, Dodge City edged Garden City 42-43 for the title. Hays was third at 56. Newton was fifth at 62.

In the 6-5-4A girls’ competition, Great Bend won at 13, followed by Dodge City at 16 and Hays at 25. Newton was eighth at 77, winning a sixth-runner tie-breaker over Salina Central.

The Newton boys were led by Alexander Barnet, who took second in his section and finished fourth in the junior boys in 17:43.2.

“It went fast, much faster than my last race,” Barnet said. “I beat my PR by almost a minute. We have a new coach this year. He’s been training us much better I think. … I already beat my goal. Now I’d like to get under 17 or get close.”

The Railer girls were led by Isabel Sandoval, who took third in her section in 22:16.9. She finished 10th among freshman girls.

“The meet was good,” Sandoval said. “The worst part of it was the second mile. I think it was really exciting coming in. At one point, one of the girls passed me, but I had to get back up. I was nervous before, but it was easy as I got in it and finished. I just want to work on my times and getting my times better. I hope this is a good average time for me.”

“I think that we all had constructive things to work on for this meet,” Newton coach D.J. Bookout said. “We didn’t have our top guys’ runner, but the rest of them all stepped up and impressed the heck out of me. They all have specific goals in mind, and that was our focus was today.”

Newton was unable to compete at its scheduled season opener last week.

“The first meet is our most important meet, because it’s our base,” Bookout said. “Our first mile is a predictor for our race. It’s a hard thing to train for.”

Newton competes Thursday at the Hays Invitational at the Plum Creek Nature Trail in Victoria.

NOTE: Complete results at www.thekansan.com.

Newton freshman Isabel Sandoval holds off a couple challengers to take third in her section of the Swather Special.