SIDNEY — The Scottsbluff boys cross country team entered a different lineup for Saturday’s Western Conference meet.
The results, however, were the same.
The Bearcats placed five runners in the top 10, including a first-place finish by sophomore Shane Burkey, to easily claim the meet with 17 points. Sidney took the runner-up spot with 32 points, followed by Mitchell with 47, Gering with 57, Chadron with 91, and Alliance with 121.
Scottsbluff coach Jim Barker said he changed his team’s lineup mostly to give some of his other runners a chance to gain some big meet experience. He was ecstatic with how they responded.
“Our guys who ran varsity stepped up to the plate,” he said. “It was a great day for us. I think we definitely accomplished what we set out to do. We wanted to race well and get some other people an opportunity to run varsity for us.”
Burkey enjoyed his best performance of the season, holding off a stiff challenge from Sidney’s Jachob Wiedeburg to capture first place. Burkey ended the race with a time of 17 minutes, 31 seconds. Wiedeburg’s official time was actually the same as Burkey’s; however, meet officials determined that Burkey barely edged Wiedeburg at the finish line.
“I thought [Burkey] ran a brilliant race. He really competed,” Barker said. “He and Wiedeburg were kind of back and forth almost from the get go. It was a great race. Spectators saw a great finish. It was fun to see how both competed so well.”
Barker said he’s excited to see Burkey continue to blossom, especially since he’s just a sophomore.
“He’s had some solid races this year,” Barker said. “He has a bright future.”
Ben Willis-Teff added a third-place finish for Scottsbluff in 17:54, and Nathan Pritchard grabbed fifth place in 18:04. Also for the Bearcats, Luke Parsley was eighth in 18:35, and Tomas Carillo was ninth in 18:38.
The victory gave Scottsbluff its second straight Western Conference championship. The Bearcats also extended their streak of dominance in the meet. Since 1995, Scottsbluff has won the meet all but five times, and those years when the Bearcats didn’t finish on top they placed second.
“Our boys were pretty excited about it,” Barker said.
Scottsbluff, which has won all four of the meets its competed in this season in which there’s been team scoring, will now turn its attention to the GNAC meet next Saturday at the Scotts Bluff Country Club. There will be both junior varsity and varsity races, with the first race beginning at 2 p.m.
Barker said his team, which is ranked No. 1 in Class B, is looking forward to going up against the tough competition in the GNAC, including Class A schools Kearney, Norfolk, and North Platte. Kearney is actually rated No. 1 in Class A.
“This one coming up is huge because it’s a one-shot opportunity to go up against [Class A schools],” Barker said. “And Kearney is extremely good this year. We feel it’s a good opportunity for us to have those schools compete out here on our home course. It’s going to be fun to see what we can do against them.”
While the Bearcats would be thrilled to finish ahead of Kearney, that won’t necessarily be the Bearcats’ main objective next Saturday.
“It would be huge to come out on top, but I think what we’re looking for is to run a great race against great competition to set us up for districts and state,” Barker said. “To me , that’s what it’s all about. If we come out on top, that’s fantastic. But if not, that’s not going to change anything in terms of what we’re trying to do this year.”
In other boys results from the Western Conference meet, Mitchell’s Tate Harvey placed fourth in 18:03; Gering’s Michael Mapes was sixth in 18:09; Sidney’s Sam Arterburn was seventh in 18:24; and the Red Raiders’ Hayden Lienemann was 10th in 18:45.
In the Western Conference girls race, Sidney overcame a tough battle against Gering to win the championship. The Red Raiders scored 31 points, just two points better than Gering. Chadron was third with 36 points, followed by Scottsbluff with 48.
Alli Jay Ehler paced Sidney with a first-place finish in 15:49. Also for the Raiders, Genessa Schilz was 10th in 17:29.
For Gering, Rachel Huffman was second in 15:58; Marisa Robles was seventh in 17:20; and Kali Rimington was eighth in 18:22.
For Chadron, Nicky Applegarth was fourth in 16:33; Briley Hannaford was fifth in 16:50; and Kiya Passero was sixth in 17:04.
In other top-10 results, Scottsbluff’s Taylor Muncie was third in 16:07; and Alliance’s Kelsey Adamson was ninth in 17:28.
Boys Varsity: Scottsbluff 17; Sidney 32; Mitchell 47; Gering 57; Chadron 91; Alliance 121
Boys Varsity Top 10: Shane Burkey, Sbluff, 17:31; Jachob Wiedeburg, Sidney, 17:31; Ben Willis-Teff, Sbluff, 17:54; Tate Harvey, Mitchell, 18:03; Nathan Pritchard, Sbluff, 18:04; Michael Mapes, Gering, 18:09; Sam Arterburn, Sidney, 18:24; Luke Parsley, Sbluff, 18:35; Tomas Carillo, Sbuff, 18:38; Hayden Lienemann, Sidney, 18:45.
Girls Varsity: Sidney 31, Gering 33, Chadron 36, Scottsbluff 48
Girls Varsity Top 10: Alli Jay Ehler, Sidney, 15:49; Rachel Huffman, Gering, 15:58, Taylor Muncie, Sbluff, 16:07; Nicky Applegarth, Cadron, 16:33; Briley Hannaford, Chadron, 16:50; Kiya Passero, Chadron, 17:04; Marisa Robles, Gering, 17:20; Kali Rimington, Gering, 18:22; Kelsey Adamson, Alliance, 17:28; Genessa Schilz, Sidney, 17:29