Bearcat boys earn triple crown in season cross country opener
     2014-09-11      By Jerry Purvis    news@geringcitizen.com
Photos by Ken Kurtz/Spectrum Photo - Two-time state champion Bearcat senior Matthew Barraza seeks out his next turn in the route at the Gering Invitational on Friday, Sept. 5. Barraza placed first in the boys' division.  
GERING — Friday marked the official start of Cross Country season at the Gering Invitational Meet, held at Monument Shadows Golf Course. Eighty-eight runners participated in the 5,000 meters varsity race from 14 teams. Final team scores were as follows. Scottsbluff took first place honors in the boys’ category with a score of 14 points, followed by Sidney in second with 35 points. Mitchell boys were third, with 71 points, and fourth was Gering, with 80 points. Alliance boys were fifth with 809 points, followed by Torrington in sixth place with 121 points. Bridgeport was seventh at 137 points, Chadron was eighth with 154, Kimball ninth with 169, rounding out tenth and eleventh respectively were Hemingford at 176 and Douglas with 188. Gordon-Rushville, Wheatland and Creek Valley brought up the rear.

Gering boys’ coach Rick Marez said times at the event were better than last year with all schools. He attributed it to the cool weather on Friday.

The Gering boys were tied for fourth and fifth at the event and a tiebreaker put them in fourth. The tiebreaker was decided by freshman Ty Romey.

Marez said this year’s boys’ team is young. “We don’t have many seniors, only about six out of the 30 total boys and girls,” he said. “A lot of them are still learning the sport and race strategy. As a whole I thought they did a pretty good job with the inexperience they have.”

Seniors Kyle Upp and Keenean Fogle, who both qualified for the state meet in 2013, along with Austin Rogers, are expected to continue emphasizing a strong work ethic.

Individual highlights show the Scottsbluff boys winning the triple crown with Scottsbluff senior Matthew Barraza in first place with a time of 16:22, teammates senior Shane Burkey in second place at 17:02 and senior Matt Richardson in third at 17:32. Other local highlights include Mitchell’s Edward Grentz in sixth place at 17:38. Gering freshman Xavier Arellano came in ninth at 17:40 and Scottsbluff sophomore Noah Hergenreder was tenth at 17:54.

In the girls’ meet, 62 runners competed in the 5,000 meters varsity race. Scottsbluff girls came in first, with 18 points, with Gering girls in second at 46 points. In third place was Sidney with 48 points, followed by Douglas, Chadron ,Cheyenne South, Bridgeport and Kimball, respectively.

Gering girls’ coach Caleigh Walker, now in her fifth year, said the event was a good start on the season. “That first event is always a good time to see how the team is doing compared to other area schools,” she said. “Some of the girls who are new to the sport were kind of nervous and not knowing what to expect.”

Walker said sophomore Rebekah Rawlings had a great summer of running and was their top performer on Saturday. Last year, she placed fifth at state as a freshman. Another solid runner for the Lady Bulldogs is senior Kali Rimington, who also put in lots of miles over the summer to get ready for the 2014 season.

Freshman runners Fransheska Plasencio and Nicole Patton also helped Gering to their second place finish in the opening event.

Individual highlights for the girls were senior Bearcat Taylor Muncie in first place at 19:58,; Mitchell sophomore Celeste Cardona in second at 20:01; Gering sophomore Rebekah Rawlings at 20:06 in third place; Scottsbluff sophomore Whitney Riesen in fourth at 20:22. Scottsbluff Shayleigh James came in sixth place at 20:37, with Gordon-Rushville’s senior Dani Wellnitch in twelfth place with 20:42. Bayard junior Jessi Smith came in eighth place at 20:51.

Gering’s next event is on Saturday, Sept. 13 at Chadron.

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