HEBRON – McCool Junction runners won both varsity races at Thursday's Randall Smith Invitational with a 1-2 finish powering the Mustang boys to second place overall.
Senior Coleman Cogswell captured his first championship this fall (17:12.9) while junior teammate Shane Smith (17:26.7) was 15 seconds faster than any other competitor from nine schools.
Those leaders put McCool Junction (36 points) ahead of all teams except champion Hastings St. Cecilia (25).
“Our boys had a solid but not spectacular day. Coleman and Shane ran very well for us at the top,” coach Ryan Underwood commented. “I think they competed about as well as they have this year. They had a great week of workouts and I hope this race gives them some added confidence.”
Underwood also praised senior Daniel Bauer for an “outstanding performance” that earned him 11th (18:28.1) among 97 varsity runners.
It was Bauer's best varsity place and his second varsity medal.
“If he can continue to run as well as he did today (Thursday), Daniel is going to make our team tremendously better,” the coach observed.
Junior Joe Neville (19:21.8/22nd) and freshman Chris Vera (39th/20:39.5) were other fine performers. The McCool boys got another boost as senior Caleb Stutzman (47th/21:08.2) returned from injury.
“He is still a little banged up, but ran his heart out. It was good to see him back,” Underwood said.
Meanwhile, senior Brooklyn Swantek followed up last week's Fillmore Central Invite championship by winning the Randall Smith girls' showdown on Thursday.
Swantek finished the 4K race in 16:05.8, a comfortable 24 seconds faster than host Thayer Central's Madison Rice (16:29.4).
Another Mustang highlight was senior Cierra Hess winning the first medal of her varsity cross-country career (14th/18:05.7). Hess ran the course about 23 seconds faster than last season.
“Cierra has worked really hard and it is exciting to see her rewarded,” Underwood proclaimed.
“Brooklyn won the Randall Hess Invite for the first time in her career. About a mile into the race, she made a nice surge to pull away and never looked back,” he added.
The Mustang girls finished fifth overall with top 40 places from freshman Mataia Hess (24th/19:04.6), sophomore Katelyn Siebert (25th/19:29.2), seniors Kristen Blundell (38th/21:40.4) and Desiree Petroshus (40th/22:09.2).
Thayer Central won the girls' team title (35 points), but McCool was just 14 points from reaching second over St. Cecilia (49), Fairbury (53) and Wilber Clatonia (57).
“All four ahead of us are district competition,” Underwood noted. “We have the potential to close the gap but we are going to have to continue to get a lot better. It provides a good challenge to motivate us for the stretch run.”
The Centennial boys, Fillmore Central girls and boys also competed in Thursday's Randall Smith Invite.
Panther junior Rachel Hoarty earned a top five finish (fourth/16:38.7) while Centennial sophomore Steven Bader captured a boys' medal (15th/18:59.5).
“Rachel Hoarty led the women's pack, and freshman Noah Temme (33rd for Fillmore/20:13.8) showed great drive while leading the boys team,” Panthers coach Brandie Conway reported. “We are showing great promise and leadership.”
Centennial classmate Stephen Yamber was only one place (16th/19:03.7) from joining Bader as medalists.
“Both boys ran their best of the season so far,” Centennial coach Rob Johansen remarked. “I thought they ran with some determination and guts. Unfortunately, only one of the Steven/Stephens earned a medal.”
Here are complete team scores and a rundown of other top area runners in these Randall Smith varsity races:
Teams: 1. Hastings St. Cecilia 25, 2. McCool Junction 36, 3. Thayer Central 46, 4. Tri County 73, 5. Fairbury 75, 6. Johnson County Central 114, 7. South Central Unified 124, 8. Wilber Clatonia 133, 9. Centennial 142, 10. Fillmore Central 148.
Individuals: 36. Tyler Loontjer, FC, 20:32.6; 37. Juan Rodriguez, FC, 20:38.7; 56. Jake Sanner, MCJ, 21:24.1; 57. Trey Perry, MCJ, 21:36.6; 58. Cole Jividen, FC, 21:44.8; 60. Gaje Petroshus, MC, 21:59.3.
Teams: 1. Thayer Central 35, 2. Hastings St. Cecilia 49, 3. Fairbury 53, 4. Wilber Clatonia 57, 5. McCool Junction 62, 6. Tri County 83, 7. Fillmore Central 90.
Individuals: 23. Rachel Workentine, FC, 19:01; 37. Megan Scheirmeyer, FC, 21:23.1; 43. Melissa Rosenquist, FC, 22:55.3; 46. Abbey Cunningham, MCJ, 24:16.3.