CENTRAL CITY — The Northwest boys cross country team continues to find success running in a pack.
That strategy worked once again for the Vikings Thursday at the Central City Invitational. Northwest had five runners earn medals after finishing between third and 12th place.
That effort helped Northwest take the team title with 23 points. It was the second team title for the Vikings this season.
Aurora was second with 39 points, while Lexington was third with 40.
Individually, Lexington’s Cyrus Rhea captured the boys race at 16:38.21, almost 21 seconds ahead of St. Paul’s Conner Wells, who was clocked at 16:59.56.
“We continued our tradition this year of going on and putting ourselves in position in the race and giving ourselves a chance to be in it at the end,” NW coach Joel Hope said. “For us to keep doing that, to have the confidence and have the guts to keep racing like that has been awesome. It’s been great for our team to run as a pack and as an unit.”
Caleb Harb and John Campbell led the Vikings with third- (17:07.99) and fourth-place (17:12.59) finishes, respectively. Colby Hayes was seventh (17:23.04), while AJ Warner came in ninth (17:35.95) and Trevor Fisher 12th (17:43.96).
The runners stayed together for as long as they could. Harb and Campbell were almost side by side for much of the race until Harb pulled ahead to take third.
“Our top boys really work out together in every practice, whether it’s just a long run or an interval workout,” Hope said. “It really doesn’t surprise me to see them do that in a meet and it helps us points wise because it can bump a lot of other teams down. That helped us today.”
Even though Lexington didn’t have a few of their runners, Hope said to beat Lexington should be a confidence booster for the Vikings.
“It’s been a while since we’ve beaten them but even though they were short-handed, we feel this should help our confidence as we’ll see them a few more times during the season,” he said.
Aurora had four medalists to help them take second. Dylan Riley was fifth (17:14.61), while Kane Fiala came in eighth (17:23.74), Eli Warnke finished 11th (17:41.61) and Isaac Bisbee took 15th (17:53.60).
Meanwhile Ord’s Kloe Severance found success on the girls side. The Chant junior won the girls race at 20:12.85, just 19 seconds ahead of Fullerton’s Julianna Maxfield. That effort helped the Chants take second with 38 points, eight more than champion Lexington.
Severance and Maxfield were neck and neck for about the first mile and a half before Severance started to pull away and had a pretty good size lead heading down the final 600 meters of the race.
Maxfield beat Severance at the St. Paul Invite last week. Severance said she’s glad that she was able to win the race this time.
“I really wanted to beat her here,” she said. “She’s a great competitor and is doing well this season. St. Paul is more of a hilly course while this was more of a flat course, which I like a lot better. But it’s in the middle of the season, I feel like I’ve been working harder during the past few practices and that paid off today.”
Ord coach Derry Trampe said Severance ran with a lot of confidence.
“She had great confidence going into the meet as she was smiling all day. She felt a lot better today and she’s been practicing well. Today she opened up and got after it, especially around the last mile marker where she had quite a lead on Maxfield,” he said. “I could see it in her eyes at that point that she was going to finish and win it. She looked so strong and had a smile on her face. That is always a good sign. She ran a good race.”
Severance said she’s been motivated for this season after not qualifying to the state meet last year. She was in fourth place before her legs gave out on her. She kept getting up and falling down before she crossed the finish line to get 20th.
“What happened last year has been a huge mental block for me. It’s been hard running for myself and competing because of that. But today, I felt good,” she said. “I’m glad with what I did but I want to keep improving.”
As for the rest of the Chants, Morgan Ritz came in ninth (21:47.44), while Delaney Cargill was 11th (21:49.79).
Trampe said he was very pleased with how the girls ran.
“I’m ecstatic because Lexington and Aurora have had strong teams and anytime we can stay close to those teams, I’m happy,” he said. “We were eight points out of first and to be that close to those kind of teams is just a credit to what that girls have been doing.”
The Grand Island Central Catholic girls finished with a medalist in the girls. Raegan Gellatly came in 15th at 22:17.85, helping the Crusaders to a sixth-place finish with 122 points.
The Northwest girls came in fifth with 90 points. Megan Freeman just missed a medal after finishing 16th (22:19.28) to lead the girls.
The GICC boys finished 10th with 301 points, with Jarit Majia taking 33rd (18:45.79).
Heartland Lutheran’s Josh Rathjen was the boys’ top runner after finishing 34th (18:49.96), while Joanna Stauss was the girls’ top runner after taking 72nd (31:42.72).