Scottsbluff wins cross country district meet: Gering’s Rebekkah Rawlings, Mitchell’s Celeste Cardona take district titles
     2014-10-23      By Jerry Purvis    news@geringcitizen.com
Photos by Nathan Flowers/Spectrum Photo Gering sophomore Rebekah Rawlings paces herself in an early outing at Gering. Rawlings led the Bulldogs with a first place overall time of 19:00 at the B-4 District race on Oct. 16. 
With team low scores of 10 for the boys and 22 for the girls, Scottsbluff placed first at the B-4 district cross country meet on Oct. 16 at the West Wind Country Club in Ogallala.

Scottsbluff boys were the top four individual runners Thursday as senior Matthew Barraza came in first at 16:06. He was followed closely by fellow senior teammates Shane Burkey (16:28.4), Matt Richardson (16:28.9) and sophomore Josh Hergenreder (16:35).

Scottsbluff junior Collin Maag placed 12th with a time of 17:29 and freshman Jesse Jamarillo was 16th at 17:34.

For the Scottsbluff girls, senior Taylor Muncie came in third with a 19:36 time, followed by sophomore Whitney Riesen in fourth with 19:42. The girls also took seventh through ninth place with freshman Kaylee Bentley (20:23), junior Shayleigh James (20:37) and freshman Mana Garcia (20:43). Sophomore Tayler Gipe finished 19th at 21:52.

“Our goal was to qualify both teams for state and we did that,” said Scottsbluff head coach Jim Barker. “We had the top four runners on the boys’ side and they’re just very solid and work well together.”

Matthew Barraza has won the district all four years of his high school career.
Barker said the girls’ team also stepped up, coming off a hard race the week before at the GNAC meet in Hastings. “We weren’t totally recovered, but got the job done at districts. I was impressed with putting five in the top nine for the girls.”
Workouts have been lighter for the Bearcats as they prepare for the state meet on Friday. “The kids are taking advantage of getting their bodies rested,” he said. “We have to keep it all in check and realize the state meet is just another meet on our schedule and follow what’s worked in the past.”

Gering also turned in a solid performance with the boys placing third with 50 team points. The girls’ squad took second with 29 points.
Gering’s top 25 individual finishers for the boys included freshman Xavier Arellano in fifth at 16:42. Seniors Kyle Upp in 13th and Keenean Fogle in 14th came in as a pack with times of 17:30.3 and 17:30.9. Junior Jacey Shaul was 18th with a 17:45 time, followed by fellow junior Ty Romey in 20th with 18:02.

“In a nutshell, everyone ran the best race of their career,” said Gering boys coach Rick Marez. “On paper, we never know how we’re going to finish, so we talked about running a race we can be satisfied with once it’s over.”
Marez said Kyle Upp stood out the most for him. “Kyle has been dealing with a foot injury and took about five days off before districts. He came out and was a minute faster than his career best.”

Marez also mentioned Xavier Arellano, who as a freshman took a leadership role and encouraged the team on to their best. But he added it’s hard to single out just one runner when everyone ran their career best.

“Cross country is kind of a low-profile sport,” Marez said. “But to see these guys excel on a personal level is great to see as a coach.”

Marez said the team doesn’t want to just be happy to be at the state meet, coming up Oct. 24 in Kearney. “Our intent is never just to qualify. Our goal is to finish in the top five. If we run like we did at districts, we have a pretty good chance to do that.”

Runners leading the way for the Gering girls’ team were sophomore Rebekah Rawlings in first place overall with a time of 19:00. Senior Kali Rimington was in fifth with a 19:56 time. Freshman Nicole Patton in 11th and junior Hadley Kirk in 12th finished the course together with times of 21:17.1 and 21:17.4. Senior Julie Ybarra in 16th
and Junior Marisa Robles at 17th also came in together, at 21:46 and 21:47.

“You always want your athletes to perform at their best, especially during a stressful time like districts week,” said Gering girls’ coach Caleigh Walker. “I couldn’t be more proud of how they competed and the effort they put forth. I couldn’t have asked for a better performance.”

All of Gering’s six runners for the girls finished in the top 17. “Hadley Kirk had an important role as our fourth runner to stay close to the number three runner,” Walker said. “And our five and six girls raced together and came in just a second apart.”

Walker said that as the season winds down, the girls still have one good race in them. “They were fifth at the UNK Invite, and the state meet is being run on the same course. Based on their performance and other times, I think they can be a top three to five team at state.”

Class C-4 district schools also had their district meet at Ogallala last Thursday. With 33 points, the Mitchell boys placed second in the 10-school field. In individual scoring, Mitchell juniors were the top three team finishers: Edward Grentz in second at 17:02, Chase Watson in sixth with a 17:32 time and Cody Mueller in eighth with 17:34. Freshman Max Avila finished 17th with an 18:17 time.
Mitchell girls’ standout, sophomore Celeste Cardona was first at 19:43, with teammate Madison Watson, also a sophomore, placed 21st with a time of 22:18.

“It was good to see Celeste win the district championship,” said Mitchell head coach Mike Harriger. “I was also happy with Madison’s performance because she’s been sick for the last week and a half. And the boys also ran really well.”
Harriger said they team plans some short sprints and hard workouts this week as they prepare for the state meet Oct. 24 – hoping to bring back some hardware to end the season.

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