Scottsbluff finishes 1, 2 at cross country finale
     2014-10-30      By Jerry Purvis    news@geringcitizen.com
Courtesy Photo - Freshman Xavier Arellano was the top runner for the Gering boys’ team at the state championship meet in Kearney last week. Arellano placed 20th in the field. 
The Scottsbluff boys and girls cross country teams finished first and second, respectively, at the Class B state title meet in Kearney last Friday.

“We had a great state meet even though the weather was horrific with extreme heat and humidity,” said Scottsbluff head coach Jim Barker. “We really feel good about what we did, both boys and girls.”

The Scottsbluff boys’ team posted a low score of 26 points, led by strong individual performances from senior Matthew Barraza, whose time of 16:10 earned him his third consecutive state title. Senior teammate Shane Burkey was third with 16:38. The team’s third senior, Matthew Richardson, was in seventh with a 17:02 time. Their fourth top scorer was sophomore Josh Hergenreder in 17th with 17:30.

The Scottsbluff girls were second with 53 team points, losing to defending Class B state champion Lincoln Pius X. Individually, senior Taylor Muncie placed fourth at 19:45 and sophomore Whitney Riesen was 10th with a time of 20:08.

“We had so much fun this year,” Barker said. “Every meet we worked to race well and it was good way to end the season with state championship for the boys and a runner-up for the girls.”

This is the 14th state cross country title for the Scottsbluff boys. That’s four more than either Lincoln Southeast or Lincoln Pius X.
“We graduate three of the top six boys’ runners and one on the girls’ side,” he said. “We still have a lot of depth in the younger classes, but it’s always a challenge to do what you can with what you have.”

The Gering boys took 9th place with a team total of 133 points. The girls were 8th with 134 points. Gering’s top runner for the boys was freshman Xavier Arellano, whose 17:45 time placed him in 20th. Junior Jacey Shaul was 37th at 18:10, senior Kyle Upp at 45th with 18:19 and senior Keenan Fogle in 47th at 18:21.

‘We knew it was going to be warm, but that caught us by surprise,” said Gering boys’ head coach Rick Marez. “Still, we ran a pretty decent race, although the times weren’t what we expected.”

He added it was good to see Kyle Upp and Keenean Fogle do well as seniors as they wrap up their high school careers. They’re the only two runners the team will lose to graduation.

“We have two juniors and everyone else is a freshman or sophomore,” Marez said. “We’ll also have a pretty good group of new freshmen coming in next year, so that will be fun to have.”

Marez said the team always wants to qualify for the state meet, but it wasn’t their entire focus for the season. “Our number one priority was to get better every week, stay healthy and have a lot of fun along the way. If we make it to state, that’s a great way to end the season. It worked out for us this year. The boys did a great job of helping each other throughout the season.”

For the girls, their top runner was senior Kali Rimington in 21st place with a 20:42 time. Sophomore Rebekah Rawlings came in 29th at 21:03.

“Kali has really come on for use this last half of the season and has done a great job,” said Gering girls’ head coach Caleigh Walker. “With the heat and humidity, Rebekah was suffering from dehydration by the end of the course, which was kind of scary.”

Rawlings was in second place for a majority of the race after the first mile.

The team will lose two seniors this spring, but everyone else will return for the 2015 season. And several of the younger runners are expected to step up and make a contribution.

“I think we had a really good year,” Walker said. “The state meet was a celebration of our whole season and the successes the girls had. They persevered though the injuries and health issues. They started training this past summer, so the state meet is a great finish for lots of work.”

Class C schools also competed in the state championship at Kearney. The standout for Mitchell was sophomore Celeste Cardona, who took the girls’ state individual title with a time of 20:17. However, the girls didn’t place as a team.

The Mitchell boys’ team placed fourth with 82 points. They were led by three juniors: Edward Grentz in fifth overall with a 17:33 time, Chase Watson in 10th with a time of 17:49 and Cody Mueller in 26th was an 18:33 time.

“The kids ran really well, even though it was awfully hot,” said Mitchell head coach Mike Harriger. “They pushed hard all year long and their times kept going down. And we were fortunate that no one came down with dehydration. A lot of the athletes were.”
With a number of returners, Harriger said he was looking forward to the 2015 season as more young athletes run their way into the high school record books.

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