COUNCIL BLUFFS — Eldon Warner is resigned to the idea that he probably won’t win a cross country race this season.
The Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson junior is too familiar with the back of teammate Brian Collinson, who won the individual boys portion of the Lewis Central Invitational on the Iowa Western campus Saturday morning. It’s the second top finish for the senior this year.
But if Collinson is the Jackets’ No. 1 scorer, Warner is surely the assist leader. He finished the five-kilometer course in 17:17, good for second place, four seconds behind his friend.
“That’s the reason I think we do so well,” Warner said. “Brian starts speeding up (then) I start speeding up until we lose everybody.”
The 1-2 finish helped T.J. eke out a team title, nipping Harlan Community 53-54 in the nine-team field to win its second meet in three tries this fall. Plattsmouth easily won the girls race, with individual champ Lauren Mitteis and Hayley Wagner crossing the finish line well ahead of the competition on a cool day.
“This is a little bit of a measuring stick,” Thomas Jefferson coach Doug Muehlig said. “We got better, and that’s the thing that’s good.”
Thomas Jefferson’s boys had bested Harlan 32-64 to open the season at Glenwood last month before losing to the Cyclones 60-83 at the C.B. Abraham Lincoln Invitational last weekend. With strong showings by Parker Raes (11th) and Dylan Nightser (13th), the squad’s top four runners ended within 63 seconds of each other.
Zach Williamson (27th) finished just high enough to give T.J. the title, which factors in a school’s top five placers. Sometimes the seventh runner in the lineup, Williamson took over for under-the-weather teammates Matt Powders (32nd, asthma) and Zach LaCombe (34th, sore back).
“I felt like our whole team contributed,” Warner said. “During practice we call ourselves ‘The Wolfpack’ to put a scenario in our head that we’re a team. Cross country isn’t a one-person race; it’s all about the team. If we don’t stay as a team, we won’t run well.”
Harlan’s Chris Brace finished third while teammate Philip Sciranko took sixth. Also leading their squads in the top 10 were Plattsmouth’s Nolan Dvorak (fourth), Abraham Lincoln’s Alex Brewer (fifth), Glenwood’s Cuentin Gray (seventh) and St. Albert’s Fred Hug (eighth).
Collinson said Warner’s peer pressure — as well as running hard going up the hills on the course — helped him stay in front.
“Friends mess with me, saying (Eldon) is going to beat me one time,” Collinson said. “I hate losing to anyone, so if I see him or know he’s close to me I tell myself to go harder so he can’t catch up.
“He still has one more year, so I don’t think I will (let him win).”
For the girls, Plattsmouth hasn’t missed a beat since losing only one runner from its Class B state runner-up finish last year. Its top four of Mitteis, Wagner, Baylor Graham and Autumn Graham remain interchangeable. April Graham rounded out the team scoring by grabbing 11th.
“They’re fun to watch,” Plattsmouth coach Todd Nott said. “I like coming here. We practice on Saturdays otherwise, so I was like, ‘Do you want to get medals or do you want to practice?’ ”
Harlan’s girls, who have won two meets, were a distant third while resting a few ailing runners.
Abraham Lincoln cruised to second for a third straight meet to open the season. Pacing the Lynx were Emma Preston (fourth) and Bre Waugh (sixth), followed by CiCi Saldana (18th), Alexa Murphy (20th) and Maddie Kinney (23rd).
“We’re in kind of a rut with these second-place finishes,” Abraham Lincoln coach Traci Flanagan said with a smile. “It’s not a bad problem to have. Southwest Iowa, we need that competition, so it was good to have Plattsmouth here today — they pushed us, for sure.”
Team scoring: 1, CB Thomas Jefferson 53. 2, Harlan Community 54. 3, Plattsmouth 87. 4, Glenwood 94. 5, CB St. Albert 104. 6, CB Abraham Lincoln 155. 7, Tri-Center 166. 8, CB Lewis Central 184. 9, Underwood 280.
Individual results: 1, Brian Collinson, Thomas Jefferson, 17:13. 2, Eldon Warner, Thomas Jefferson, 17:17. 3, Chris Brace, Harlan, 17:19. 4, Nolan Dvorak, Plattsmouth, 17:21. 5, Alex Brewer, Abraham Lincoln, 17:25. 6, Philip Sciranko, Harlan, 17:25. 7, Cuentin Gray, Glenwood, 17:59. 8, Fred Hug, St. Albert, 18:05. 9, Jacob Krug, Plattsmouth, 18:08. 10, Gus Doll, St. Albert, 18:09.
Team scoring: 1, Plattsmouth 24. 2, CB Abraham Lincoln 62. 3, Harlan Community 92. 4, CB Lewis Central 93. 5, Tri-Center 123. 6, Underwood 127. 7, CB Thomas Jefferson 157.
Individual results (times not recorded): 1, Lauren Mitteis, Plattsmouth. 2, Hayley Wagner, Plattsmouth. 3, Michelle Mumm, Tri-Center. 4, Emma Preston, Abraham Lincoln. 5, Baylor Graham, Plattsmouth. 6, Bre Waugh, Abraham Lincoln. 7, Autumn Graham, Plattsmouth. 8, Jacey Martin, St. Albert. 9, Alexis Cook, Missouri Valley. 10, Cassie Warner, Thomas Jefferson.