AMES — Newton High’s cross country teams were infused with youth in their 2015 season opening meet Thursday. Two sophomores led the Cardinal boys in the Gilbert Invitational and two freshmen paced the Cardinal girls on the Iowa State cross country course in Ames.
Runners had almost ideal conditions to run the 5K races on Thursday. Cooler temperatures and dry conditions prevailed for the season opening meet hosted by Gilbert. Two years ago the meet was called off because of extreme heat.
Running the new 5K distance, Newton’s girls competed in the Gilbert Invitational Class A division race without senior Grace Coen and finished fifth with 129 points. Youth dominated the top spots in the race won by Dallas Center-Grimes sophomore Lexi Smith in 20 minutes, 27.27 seconds.
Freshman Rachel Rhoads claimed seventh and earned a medal in her first high school competition with a time of 22:03.83 to lead Newton. Freshman Caelyn Briley turned in a 16th-place time of 22:57.22.
There wasn’t a senior crossing the line in the race until DCG’s Addie Dannewitz came in 12th at 22:32.86. Coen, who was ranked No. 6 in Class 4A in preseason rankings, was on a college visit Thursday. Newton will compete in Class 3A this season.
“This was a great start to the season and I’m very proud of the girls,” Newton girls’ head coach Rachelle Tipton said. “ A new race distance can be intimidating, but they are fighters and pushed through. Being the first meet of the year, we did take away things to work on for the rest of the season, but a lack of effort isn’t one of them.”
Newton’s No. 3 running was sophomore Tessa Keeton in 23:47.37 for 33rd place. Freshman Abbie Barr ran the course in 24:25.41 and junior Ellie Horn finished in 24:46.10 in 42nd and 45th, respectively.
“We had two freshmen in the top 20, which is exciting. They are tough competitors and can have a fun season ahead. The scorers were rounded out with another freshman with a bright career and two returners, who will be solid competitors for the team again this year,” Tipton said.
Junior Katherine Thorpe took 79th in 27:06.07 and junior Michaella Cope placed 87th in 27:25.95. Senior Annie Hurt placed 135th in 32:35.96 and sophomore Haley Walton was 147th in 35:39.52 in a field of 150 runners.
Tipton said Thorpe and Cope worked well off each other throughout the race. Hurt and Walton had strong finishes, she said.
Gilbert edged out DCG for the Class A girls’ team title, scoring 41 points to the Fillies’ 42. Shenandoah was third with 83 points followed by North Polk with 100. Newton scored 129 points for fifth.
The Class A boys’ race was dominated by DCG’s Mustangs, who placed six runners in the top 10 as they won the team championship with 21 points. Gilbert was a distant second with 99 points. Newton scored 255 points for ninth place in a field of 12 teams. There were 200 runners in the boys’ 5K race.
Newton’s boys were led by sophomore Jack Callaghan in 18th place, running the course in 18:59.02. Sophomore Dylan Main was the second Cardinal runner to finish, taking 75th in 21:03.75. Dallas Center-Grimes freshman Tyler Borneman won the individual title in 18:02.34.
“We got excellent performances by runners who are still trying to find their pace,” NHS boys’ head coach Steve Weeks said. “The team looks to improve during its time off from competition next week. We’re looking to improve our individual times, which will improve our placings and team position at meets.”
Junior Noah Sander finished 78th in 21:10.11 with senior Zach Theis crossing the finish line in 112th at 22:25.07. Freshman Adam Hunter rounded out the team scoring for Newton with a 136th-place time of 23:21.45.
Sophomore Ross Hull ran 141st in 23:37.88 and sophomore Blake Robson was 177th in 26:38.34.
“I’m pleased with our young men in my high school cross country coaching debut. They competed well,” Weeks said. “We will be joined by several other team members, who were unable to compete in this first race, so we’ll have a larger group of runners in the next competition.”
The NHS teams have a little more than a week to prepare for their next meet, which is the Grinnell Invitational on Sept. 8.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or email@example.com