ST. PAUL, Minn. — Unseasonable hot weather followed Newton High’s Cardinal cross country teams to St. Paul, Minn., on Saturday. The high temperatures and heat index on Saturday had the University of Minnesota adjusting the schedule for the 32nd annual Roy Griak Invitational.
The cross country meet featured four high school races — two divisions — with the 5K races run on the rolling hills and grassy terrain of the Les Bolstad Golf Course. Newton’s runners were in the Maroon division high school races, which were the final two races of the day at 1:20 p.m. and 2:10 p.m.
“The distance for the Maroon race was shortened from a 5K to a 2-mile race because of the heat and large amount of runners having to use the medical area,” Newton boys’ head coach Steve Weeks said. “It’s the first time they ran a 2-mile race since 1968.”
Junior Adam Hunter was the top runner for the Cardinal boys, finishing 91st in 11 minutes, 24 seconds. There were 483 runners in the boys’ Maroon division and 58 teams.
Seniors Jack Callaghan, Dylan Main and Chad Nolin ran the race in 12:00, 12:24 and 12:51 to finish in 207th, 280th and 360th, respectively. Freshman Anthony Bestell placed 440th in 13:33.
Senior Blake Robson was 467th in 14:21 and freshman Trent Hamand took 472nd in 14:55.
“We ran as well as we could against 480-plus runners, finishing 48th as a team,” Weeks said. “The biggest issue was in such a short race with so many participants it meant that no separation was ever accomplished. Once a runner was stuck in their place there was little chance to jockey for position.”
Weeks said the Cardinal boys ran very well, but many did suffer from heat-related ailments after the race. He said quick re-hydration and ice packs got the guys back to normal in a short time.
Newton’s girls combined for a score for 44th out of 48 teams. Junior Rachel Rhoads ran the 2-mile race in 13:21 as the Cardinals’ No. 1 runner in the Maroon division race.
“It was a hot one and because of that they cut the race to two miles. This is a ‘true’ cross country course with small, but rolling hills,” Newton girls’ head coach Rachelle Tipton said. “So, for the girls it was all about experiencing a race with 400 athletes and just putting their best foot forward, and they did.”
Junior Clare Muckler placed 144th in 14:10 followed by sophomore Janna Smith in 307th with a time of 16:58. Sophomore Tes Schuster was 378th in 18:05 and freshman Abigail Adkinson was 387th in 19:12.
“In such a large race it was exciting to have Rachel in the top 100 and narrowly miss the top 50. She knows she can compete with some of the best in the Midwest. Clare was also well within the top half of racers and looked strong throughout,” Tipton said. “Jenna, Tes, and Abigail were competing with the girls around them and fought hard all the way to the end.”
Tipton said of course there is a little disappointment that it wasn’t the experience we expected but there was still so much to take away, like watching Division I runners from all across the country competing. She said the Cardinals can’t wait to go back.
Newton’s team competes at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Knoxville Invitational.