The Smith-Cotton girls cross country team won and the boys were a competitive second-place behind Hermitage while Warsaw claimed an individual champion in the girls race and a second-place finish for the boys on Saturday at Clover Dell Park.
Warsaw’s Ashlee Kuykendall raced to a first place finish with a time of 20:59. She had a large lead over a trio of Smith-Cotton runners at the one-mile mark and managed to hold it despite S-C’s Grace Edgar closing the gap slightly.
“I was just trying to pace myself and try my hardest,” Kuykendall said. “I feel I did pretty good. I feel there were times I could have gone faster.”
Edgar finished second in a personal-best 21:10.
“I feel like it was really good,” Edgar said. “I felt it was really hard at the end. (Kuykendall) was about 10 seconds ahead of me. I was trying to get her but I felt good about what I did.”
Saige Peterson was third in 22:42 and Kristen Farrell was fourth in 22:54.
“We told them,’if you’re together, there’s strength in that’ and then you go beat as many people as you can,” said Smith-Cotton coach Matt Clark. “The cool thing about that is, once they got together, there was no one left to beat.”
Smith-Cotton also had a 14th-place finish from Emily Kindle and a 21st-place finish from Sydney Mefford. S-C finished with 26 points in the team standings. Warsaw was second with 29.
Warsaw’s Rickie Branson and Hannah Chapman finished 10th and 11th in 24:12 and 24:17. McKayla Andrews was 16th and Bailey Sharp 17th. Drew Dawson took 24th.
Smithton’s Katlynne Dedrick took 12th in 24:29. Paige Newton was 19th. Sarah White was 20th.
Stover’s Eleanor Oehrke was 23rd in 30:58.
In the boys’ race, Hermitage runners set a strong pace with Warsaw’s Dallas Larsen and Smith-Cotton’s Jose Fernando chasing the top two at the mile mark. Larsen eventually worked his way into second and that’s where he would finish in 17:30. Hermitage runner Easton Sabala took first in 17:10.
“I just tried to stay up behind them, if I could, pass them,” Larsen said. “I just didn’t want to lose them.”
Hermitage, the defending Class 1 state champion, had six runners in the top 10 to win the meet with 21 points. Smith-Cotton was second with 45.
“We won’t actually race them, but we’ll face a lot of teams like them,” Clark said. “We knew going in that they’d be extremely good. We knew we had to get better to beat them and we were a lot better than we were a week ago and they were even better yet. My hat’s off to them. If they stay healthy, I think they’re a state championship team.”
S-C had six runners in the top 15. Fernando finished fifth in 18:05.
“I feel like he is growing into being a front-runner,” Clark said. “We’ve got a great pack. We’ve tried to get one or two guys to go be a low-stick front runner and it’s slowly happening.”
Gary McKinsey was eighth in 18:12, George Gomez ninth in 18:47, Martin Zalpa 11th in 18:20, Alex Beard 12th in 18:26 and Irvin Zalpa 14th in 18:39.
Stover’s Nelson McCollom was 18th in 19:38. Austin Huddleston led a strong Smithton contingent with a 21st-place finish in 20:51.
“I feel I did pretty decent,” Huddleston said. “This is the first one I’ve run so far. I ran a 5:30 mile last year in track season so I think six-something per mile was pretty decent for three miles.”
Smithton’s Trey Snapp was 26th, Jacob Mendrano was 28th, Brock Doyal was 30th, Andy Tripp was 32nd and Aaron Frazee was 37th.
The Wildcats got a 20th place finish from John Hargrave and a 23rd place finish from Maleek Porter.
Warsaw finished third in the team standings. Smithton was fourth.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles