Scottsbluff runners claim UNK Invitational title
     2014-10-02      By Jerry Purvis    news@geringcitizen.com
High school cross country teams from around the state were in Kearney Monday for the annual University of Nebraska-Kearney Invite – and Scottsbluff came away with the win in Class B.

The Scottsbluff boys placed four runners in the top 25. Senior Matthew Barraza came in first with a 16:24 time. Fellow senior Matt Richardson was third at 17:02.50 and senior Shane Burkey was fourth with a time of 17:02.90. And sophomore Josh Hergenrader came in ninth at 17:29.

The Scottsbluff girls also placed four runners in the top 25. Senior Taylor Muncie came in sixth at 20:17. Sophomore Whitney Riesen was eighth with 20:35, freshman Kaylee Bentley in 11th with a 20:49 time and junior Shayleigh James with 20:52 to take 13th place.

Gering also competed well at Kearney with a fifth place finish. Gering boy’s coach Rick Marez said the team has only been running in the UNK event for the past couple of years. “It gives the kids an idea of what the course will be like when the state meet comes up and gives them a chance to get the nerves out.”

Junior Jacey Shaul was the only runner for the Gering boys to make the top 25 with an 18:01 time for 25th place.

“Jacey ran a great race and was only about two seconds off what he ran at the state meet last year,” Marez said. “He’s way ahead of where he was a year ago.”

He added that Gering doesn’t see a lot of teams from eastern Nebraska during the season, so it’s good to compete at the UNK Invite.

“Hastings and Holdrege were a couple of teams we needed to see,” Marez said. “They’re in our district for the district meet and I thought we matched up very well with them. It will be fun to see how it goes for the rest of the season.”

For the Gering girls, sophomore Rebekah Rawlings placed second in the field of 205 girls with a time of 19:35. Senior teammate Kali Rimington was in 23rd with 21:17.

“Our goal was to see how we’re doing against other schools across the state,” said Gering girls coach Caleigh Walker. “We were fifth overall, which is an improvement from 11th last year. It was good day for representing the western side of the state.”

Walker added that all the girls had really good finishes for the 5K event. Plus they had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the course that will be used for the upcoming state championships.

In Class C action at the UNK Invite, Mitchell sophomore Celeste Cardona continued to shine, winning the girls division with a time of 20:22. And fellow sophomore Madison Watson placed 24th with a 22:47 time.

“Celeste ran a really smart race and had a really good time,” said Mitchell cross country coach Mike Harriger. “We talked about how she wanted to run the race and that’s how she ran it. I’m very pleased.”

He also pointed out that Madison Watson turned in one of her better scores for the season.

Mitchell’s three junior boys also placed in the top 25. Chase Watson, Madison’s older brother, took eighth with a 17:52 time. Edward Grentz was 11th at 18:00 and Cody Mueller was 19th at 18:27.

Last week, schools from around the area were in Scottsbluff on Sept. 23 for the annual Panhandle Classic, which isn’t scored as a team event.

“We set this up years ago as a non-scoring meet,” said Scottsbluff cross country Coach Jim Barker. “We wanted to attract as many schools as we could from the Panhandle area. It was a good turnout.”

In individual results for the Gering boys, freshman Xavier Arellano was first with a time of 17:40. Jacey Shaul, a junior, was third with 18:12. Senior Kyle Upp posted an 18:31 time for seventh, while fellow senior Keenean Fogle was 10th at 18:40.

“I thought we did great,” said Gering boys coach Rick Marez. “That event usually happens during the week, so we approach it like a fast workout day. The kids just go out and have fun without getting too nervous about it.”

For the Gering girls, sophomore Rebekah Rawlings came in second at 20:23. Senior Kali Rimington was fourth with a 20:57 time, freshman Nicole Patton was sixth with 22:46 and Hadley Kirk was 10th with a time of 23:25.

Caleigh Walker, Gering girls cross country coach, also said it was a great day for a race. “We had 10 girls medal in the event and it’s good for some of the younger girls to compete with some of the more experienced runners.”

Walker added their time gap between their third and sixth runners was shortened to about a minute as they continue to improve on that number.

The Scottsbluff team also performed well. As in their prior meet at Alliance, Barker put in some of the younger runners to give them more experience on the varsity level.

For the Scottsbluff girls, freshman Reegan Green came in at 23:21 for a ninth place finish. For the boys, junior Collin Maag was sixth at 18:25 and senior Ramon Chavez came in ninth at 18:38.

“We held some kids out so they’d be ready to go at the UNK Invite,” he said. “But it gave our younger kids the opportunity to run. I though the boys did particularly well. And we only ran a limited number of girls. It was worthwhile as some of them got their season best times.”

Mitchell was another strong contender in the event. Sophomore Celeste Cardona turned in the best time for the girls with 20:17. And fellow sophomore Madison Watson was fifth at 22:28.

The Mitchell boys placed three runners, all juniors in the top 10. Edward Grentz was in second at 17:52, Cody Mueller in fourth at 18:13 and Chase Watson in fifth with an 18:20 time.

“Both of the girls ran really well,” said Mitchell coach Mike Harriger. “Celeste has some good competition, which helps her run better.”

Harriger said he’s also happy with how the boys competed, although all of them told the coach they wanted to bring their times down even more.

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