STOVER — Warsaw cross country runners cruised to first-place finishes in both the boys and girls races at the Stover Invitational on Wednesday.
Ashlee Kuykendall won the girls race, finishing in 23:19. Dallas Larsen won the boys race in 17:38.
As a team, the Warsaw girls took first place with 19 points. Tipton had 48 points to edge Smithton for second.
“They always like coming to this one because as a team, we can compete a little bit better than some of those big races where there are 30 teams,” said Wildcats coach Ehren Banfield.
The Warsaw girls placed five runners in the top seven, including sweeping the top three spots. Hannah Chapman sprinted over the final 100 yards to a second-place finish in 23:58. Rickie Branson was third in 24:17. MiKayla Andrews was sixth and Bailey Sharp was seventh.
“I think everybody did really well and pushed themselves,” Kuykendall said.
In the boys race, Larsen looked to work his way to the front of the pack and needed only a minute to find his way there, forging a strong lead over Tipton’s Isaac Ashton and Stover’s Nelson McCollum. Over the course of the race, he continued to build the lead, finishing more than a minute ahead of Ashton.
“My motivation was trying to improve my time,” Larsen said. “I wasn’t really going for a place, I just wanted to beat my time. I fell a little bit short by a few seconds.”
A sophomore, Larsen is hoping to make his second trip to the state finals next month.
“He’s still got a couple more years to go and he’s still getting stronger,” Banfield said. “He should be able to do well at state if he keeps going strong.”
The Tipton boys took first place as a team with 84 points. Smithton was second with 129 and Warsaw third with 136.
“I couldn’t complain,” said Tipton coach Brad Homan. “We have one kid struggling with ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome, an upper leg injury common in runners) and he pushed through the pain and I’m very happy for him. Made the team better and I’m very happy.”
Ashton was second in 18:43. Kodie Dick was fourth in 19:04. Alex Urbina was seventh and Robert Gutierrez eighth. Trenton Pace took 15th.
McCollum’s 18:57 placed him third as he spent most of the race on Ashton’s heels.
“It was a great race,” McCollum said. “I ran my fastest time this season. I had a lot of fun running it. I just wish I could have done better.”
Austen Huddleston led the Smithton contingent with a ninth-place finish in 20:18. Smithton also had an 11th place finish from Jacob Medrano, and Brock Doyal and Andy Tripp took 18th and 19th, respectively, holding off a late charge from Joe Jeffries of Versailles at the finish line.
In the girls race, Smithton’s top finisher was Katelynne Dedrick in fifth place with a time of 26:02.
“I think I did pretty good as tough as the course was,” she said. “I was trying to push a lot harder and thinking that as soon as I got to the top, it was all down hill.”
Tipton’s Aubree Schuster was fourth with a time of 24:35.
“For not having many people around her to push her, she still ran well,” Homan said. “I was very happy with it.”
Tipton’s Faith Fassler was 11th with a time of 27:46. Madison Schuster was 15th. Reese Wood was 18th.
Smithton also had Sarah White in 12th, Paige Newton in 13th and Janelle Figueroo in 21st.
Stover’s Eleanor Oehrke finished in 31:44 to take 17th.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles