Venable, Hall, Kielhofner, Puetz race to wins at Nixa XC Invite

By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com) 

Nixa, Mo. — While temperatures hit the upper 80s at Nixa Cross Country Invitational, the hot and windy weather did little to slow down 315 area runners.

Class 1 and 2 Boys – CLICK HERE FOR RACE PHOTOS

The Class 1 and 2 boys race featured a Lamar logjam in the front of the pack, as six Tiger runners finished in the top 12.

Lamar senior Mark Venable won the race in a time of 16:47.25, edging out teammate Kolin Overstreet’s second-place finish in 16:57.95.

Venable took command early, racing out to a sizable lead with Overstreet not far behind.

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“It’s hard not running with a lot of people,” Veneable said. “It’s been like that for most of the year. A lot of the competition for Class 2 is on the other side of the state except for my friend, Kolin. I just go out fast and try and hold it for as long as I can, I guess.”

Chadwick’s Evan Smith rounded out the top three with a time of 17:42.00.

Lamar cruised to an overall team win with a total of 24 points. College Heights finished second with 91.

Class 1 and 2 Girls – CLICK HERE FOR RACE PHOTOS

The Class 1 and 2 girls race featured a bit of a surprise, as Diamond’s Gabrielle Hall ran away from College Heights rival Grace Bishop in the second half to win in 22:10.11. Prior to Tuesday’s meet, Hall had never beaten Bishop in a cross country race.

For Tuesday’s race, the Diamond junior decided to change up the strategy a bit.

“I held off for a while, which I usually don’t do,” Hall said. “Usually, [Bishop] holds back, and she’s beaten me every time, so I decided to hold off for a little bit longer, and I think that actually worked out quite well.”

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Clever’s Brooke Hoef finished third in 22:53.42.

Lamar completed the small-class sweep with a team victory in the girls event. The Lady Tigers placed five runners in the top 20 to edge out Sparta, 39 to 58.

Class 3 and 4 Boys  – CLICK HERE FOR RACE PHOTOS

While Springfield Catholic’s Stephen Kielhofner won Tuesday’s Class 3 and 4 boys race, as expected, his path to victory was much more tactical than in years past.

For the first two miles, the 2016 Class 3 state champion was content to sit with a small pack of runners, including Branson’s Keifer Dooley, Carthage’s Clayton Whitehead and Buffalo’s Trenton Wells.

At the final mile mark, Kielhofner stretched into a commanding lead which the others were unable to answer. The Catholic senior raced alone down the final stretch to finish in 16:18.04.

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Dooley and Whitehead finished second and third, with times of 16:33.95 and 16:40.74, respectively.

“Today’s definitely the first race where I’ve been pretty nervous,” Kielhofner said. “There’s definitely some great competition here. That last mile, I felt really good about. I didn’t get a season PR, and I didn’t even break 16, but I’m happy to have done something I worked really hard for in that last mile.”

In the team competition, Nixa’s depth and ability to pack run paid off. The Eagles edged Branson by a score of 62 to 84 to win the overall title.

Class 3 and 4 Girls  – CLICK HERE FOR RACE PHOTOS

With her win Tuesday, Rolla’s Emma Puetz now has three victories in three races this season.

The scary part?

She’s still trying to figure out how to race effectively.

From the gun, Puetz ran away from the field, crossing the finish line in 19:52.06 — over 30 seconds ahead of Willard second-place finisher Sydney Pyrah (20:25.15) and Reeds Spring’s Rachel Bagg (20:48.95).

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“I know a bit more about how I should run and what pace I need to be on,” Puetz said. “I’ve been trying to use that tactic for all my races now. Come districts, there’s going to be so many good runners, and I need to know how to pace and run with them.”

So far, the Rolla sophomore’s plan seems to be working out just fine.

In the team competition, Carthage’s 63 points beat out Branson’s 76 and Catholic’s 84 for first place.
Top 15 Boys – Class 1 and 2
1. 16:47.25 Mark Venable, Lamar
2. 16:57.95 Kolin Overstreet, Lamar
3. 17:42.00 Evan Smith, Chadwick
4. 17:48.38 Ethan Pittsenbarger, Lamar
5. 17:54.50 Braeden Decker, Humansville
6. 18:38.68 Jeremiah Ellison, Sparta
7. 18:46.65 Sean Lowry, Wheaton
8. 18:52.26 Marek Smith, Wheaton
9. 19:02.89 Parker King, Lamar
10. 19:08.46 Nate Fletcher, Greenwood
11. 19:17.93 Michael Caruthers, Lamar
12. 19:19.33 Joe Kremp, Lamar
13. 19:24.43 Adin Hiebsch, School of the Ozarks
14. 19:30.07 Domenick Blanchette, McAuley
15. 19:51.28 Skyler Levendosky, College Heights

Top Five Boys Teams – Class 1 and 2
1. 24 Lamar
2. 91 College Heights
3. 115 Humansville
4. 126 Wheaton
5. 135 Chadwick
Top 15 Boys – Class 3 and 4
1. 16:18.04 Stephen Kielhofner, Catholic
2. 16:33.95 Keifer Dooley, Branson
3. 16:40.74 Clayton Whitehead, Carthage
4. 16:50.74 Trenton Wells, Buffalo
5. 17:12.28 Eros Sustaita, Nixa
6. 17:19.13 Jace Hull, Parkview
7. 17:19.75 Luke Herman, Nixa
8. 17:30.98 Reece Long, Branson
9. 17:34.24 Zachary Seitz, Branson
10. 17:37.94 Sam Knopf, Parkview
11. 17:42.25 Alex Frisbee, Rolla
12. 17:43.18 Derrick Barger, Willard
13. 17:50.62 Blake Procell, Nixa
14. 17:59.28 Cameron Shook, Hollister
15. 18:05.98 Preston Horne, Marshfield

Top Five Boys Teams – Class 3 and 4
1. 62 Nixa
2. 84 Branson
3. 108 Carthage
4. 128 Willard
5. 140 Parkview
Top 15 Girls – Class 1 and 2
1. 22:10.11 Gabrielle Hall, Diamond
2. 22:38.22 Grace Bishop, College Heights
3. 22:53.42 Brooke Hoeft, Clever
4. 23:06.57 Emmy Colin, College Heights
5. 23:10.09 Kara Morey, Lamar
6. 23:14.37 Jessica Coble, Lamar
7. 23:18.51 Autumn Alden, School of the Ozarks
8. 23:19.29 Courtney Bates, McAuley
9. 23:24.12 Micheala House, Sparta
10. 23:33.85 Brooke Wiggins, Sparta
11. 24:09.84 Lauryn Macy, Diamond
12. 24:26.00 Abby Kluhsman, Lamar
13. 24:27.30 Kimber Rains, Sparta
14. 24:32.56 Ashley Pearce, Clever
15. 24:36.77 Alexis Parker, Lamar

Top Five Girls Teams – Class 1 and 2
1. 39 Lamar
2. 58 Sparta
3. 66 Diamond
4. 82 Clever
5. 91 Sarcoxie
Top 15 Girls – Class 3 and 4
1. 19:52.06 Emma Puetz, Rolla
2. 20:25.16 Sydney Pyrah, Willard
3. 20:48.95 Rachel Bagg, Reeds Spring
4. 20:55.37 Jenari Lopez, Carthage
5. 20:59.45 Brocklyn Barber, Ozark
6. 21:01.24 Madeline Caruthers, Branson
7. 21:04.46 Alexis Barber, Ozark
8. 21:23.78 Anna Burson, Catholic
9. 21:30.30 Krista Hilmas, Rolla
10. 21:33.35 Andrea Gray, Catholic
11. 21:40.08 Brianna Marquez, Catholic
12. 21:41.74 Olivia Holmes, Rolla
13. 21:43.12 Mackenzie Ihasz, Nixa
14. 21:44.94 Reagan Smith, Marshfield
15. 21:45.29 Annslee Glenn, Nixa

Top Five Girls Teams – Class 3 and 4
1. 63 Carthage
2. 76 Branson
3. 84 Catholic
4. 122 Nixa
5. 136 Ozark