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Harriers finish season at Kearney
October 28, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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Nathan Flowers Photo Rebekah Rawlings competed earlier this season in the Cheyenne Invite Cross Country meet. The Gering senior ran her last high school event at Kearney, finishing third place at the state Class B meet.

Both Scottsbluff and Gering girls’ cross country teams finished the 2016 season among the top five teams at the Class B state meet in Kearney on Oct. 21.

Scottsbluff took third place with a team score of 60 points. Gering came in fourth at 75. The top runners had Scottsbluff’s Whitney Riesen finishing her high school career in second, posting a time of 19:15.80. Gering senior Rebekah Rawlings was close behind in third with 19:22.30.

Also finishing in the top 15 were Gering freshman Tukker Romey at 19:48.000 for fifth place. Scottsbluff junior Kaylee Bentley posted a 20:12.50 time for 12th place.

“The girls wanted to run their best race of the season and that’s what they did,” said Gering Coach Rick Marez. “We know that Rebekah is dependable and always finishes well, but Tukker exceeded not only my expectations but her own. Before the meet, I told her she had a good chance of finishing high with a good race. It was really fun to see both of them finish in the top five.”

Scottsbluff Coach Jim Barker said a third place finish for his girls’ team was the highest they could have expected, as No. 1 Aurora and No. 2 Elkhorn South were both unbelievably good and deep.

On the boys’ side, Gering’s team score was 147, placing them in 11th at the state meet. Junior Xavier Arellano was their only top 15 runner, crossing the tape at 16:51.80 for 10th place.

The Scottsbluff boys barely missed going to state as a team after placing fourth at the district meet. However, twin brothers Noah and Josh Hergenreder qualified as individuals. Josh was the only top 15 finisher at state, coming in 13th with a time of 16:56.70.

“There were a lot of lead changes in the last 400 meters, so Josh could have finished anywhere from 10th to 15th,” Barker said. “He had a great season and a great career for us. It was a good way to go out.”

Gering Coach Marez said the boys had a different mindset because they didn’t have a full squad coming into the state meet. Still, they ran well in what Marez called a “really fast race over a challenging course.”

“We didn’t know for sure where we’d end up but we wanted to run good races,” he said. “Logan Moravec ran better this year than last, even though he’s been dealing with an injury for a month. Plus, to have Xavier in the top 10 was pretty exciting.”

Moravec finished in 30th place at the state meet with a 17:40.30 time.
“This is one of the most exciting groups I’ve worked with as far as the potential they have,” Marez said. “The overall climate they created was just top notch. There’s no program in the area that has more fun than Gering Cross Country.”

Top runners returning next year include Tukker Romey for the girls, and Xavier Arellano and Logan Moravec for the boys.

“When Logan is healthy, we’ll have a one-two combination that will be very competitive across the state,” Marez said. “Although we’re losing Rebekah to graduation, we have some younger girls ready to step up their performances and we’ll still be competitive.”

Barker was also pleased with how the season wrapped up. Both Hergenreder brothers and Whitney Riesen have received some interest from colleges to run for them.
“For the girls, the lowest finish we had all season was
fourth in the Liberty Bell meet in Colorado,” Barker said. “Everything else was first, second or third. The girls also won both their district and conference meets. Overall it was a really good season.”

Barker added it was somewhat disappointing to not field a full boys’ team, but they lacked the depth and experience, along with a smaller number of runners competing.

Still, he said it looks bright for the future. Jesse Jaramillo, one of Scottsbluff’s top runners, will return next year after losing a season to hip surgery over the summer. With other younger talent and few losses to graduation, Barker expects to reload for next season and have a competitive year.
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