Strausbaugh, Montez race to individual victories at Irish XC Invitational

By Dana Harding (For

Springfield, Mo. — Featuring an afternoon heat index in the high 80s and a wide-open, shade-free course, Tuesday’s Irish Invitational cross country was rife with challenges.

217 runners from 92 schools at the northeast Springfield took on the course mapped out on top of the Springfield Underground industrial area.

Boys Race

With a host of potential winners, the boys race featured plenty of pre-race questions.

As the gun went off, those questions were quickly answered by Logan-Rogersville junior Jay Strausbaugh and sophomore Landon Hendrickson.

The Wildcat duo jumped out to an early, comfortable lead and never looked back, taking the top two spots in the race by nearly a minute over Carl Junction’s Kaleb Wiebel.

“It was a little warm,” Strausbaugh said. “But, overall, there was good motive between both of us that kept us running good speeds, because these are probably our best times this year, considering we’ve run at three hilly courses the past times.”

Strausbaugh winning time of 16:58.81 was followed closely by Hendrickson’s 17:04.00. Carl Junction junior Kaleb Weibel was third with a time of 17:56.11.


With cooler temperatures and faster courses on the horizon, both runners expect big things by the time districts roll around. With personal bests of 16:25 and 16:28, respectively, Strausbaugh and Hendrickson are hoping the year of hard work pays off with a sub-16 district race.

“If we keep progressing in these smaller meets before that big meet, I feel like our times are going to drop quite a bit,” Hendrickson said. “We can really use these meets as training races to help improve.”

Jasper’s Hunter Hinds was the first small-school runner to cross the tape. The sophomore’s time of 18:36.72 bested the 18:51.35 mark posted by Greenwood freshman Nathan Fletcher.

The team titles were won by Crane and Carl Junction.

The Pirates placed three runners in the top ten to best second-place Strafford 38-46 in the small school competition.

In the afternoon’s closest race, Carl Junction edged Bolivar 49-50 to take the large-school victory. The Bulldogs bunched four runners in the top ten.

Top 15 Boys
1. 16:58.81 – Jay Strausbaugh, Logan-Rogersville
2. 17:04.00 – Landon Hendrickson, Logan-Rogersville
3. 17:56.11 – Kaleb Wiebel, Carl Junction
4. 18:01.28 – Peter Bowling, Bolivar
5. 18:06.83 – Logan Carnes, Carl Junction
6. 18:10.91 – Cameron Shook, Hollister
7. 18:13.01 – Jack DelVecchio, Catholic
8. 18:13.79 – Dylan Higgins, Carl Junction
9. 18:17.10 – Kyle Wood, Neosho
10. 18:17.55 – Will McCracken, Bolivar
11. 18:17.86 – Diego Nelson, Carl Junction
12. 18:18.58 – William Johnson, Nevada
13. 18:18.96 – Tristan Gaddis, Mt. Vernon
14. 18:21.91 – Spencer Feugate, Bolivar
15. 18:24.00 – Tracen McKinney, Bolivar

Top Three Boys Teams Class 1-2
1. 38 – Crane
2. 46 – Strafford
3. 59 – College Heights

Top Three Boys Teams Class 3-4
1. 49 – Carl Junction
2. 50 – Bolivar
3. 86 – Neosho

Girls Race

In the girls event, Carl Junction freshman Ally Montez continued her 2018 coming-out party with a wire-to-wire victory in 19:53.38.

Montez, just two weeks after setting a 19:35 personal record at the Missouri Southern Stampede, made an early move in the first mile to create distance and never looked back, winning the race by some 30 seconds.

Despite the runaway victory, Montez admitted to feeling some pre-race butterflies.


“Honestly, I wasn’t feeling too good,” Montez said. “I wasn’t conditioned, I was doubting myself and I wasn’t expecting this at all. It was rough, but it was good. I think I did pretty well.”

Blue Eye freshmen Avery and Riley Arnold finished second and third, respectively, with times of 20:23.99 and 20:30.76.

The Arnold twins also finished first and second in the small-class division and, not surprisingly, helped pace Blue Eye to the overall title. The Lady Bulldogs stacked an impressive four runners in the top five to best second-place Strafford’s 44-point total.

In the large-school competition, Carl Junction ran away with the title on a dominant, 18-point performance. The Lady Bulldogs log-jammed the top seven spots with five runners to best second-place Bolivar’s total of 50 points.

Top 15 Girls
1. 19:53.38 – Ally Montez, Carl Junction
2. 20:23.99 – Avery Arnold, Blue Eye
3. 20:30.76 – Riley Arnold, Blue Eye
4. 20:35.08 – Faith Stark, Logan Rogersville
5. 21:07.85 – Kaci Singer, Aurora
6. 21:24.54 – Maegen Derfelt, Carl Junction
7. 21:35.16 – Grace Bishop, College Heights
8. 21:39.56 – Rebaccah Loya, Hillcrest
9. 21:53.45 – Anna Burson, Catholic
10. 21:54.22 – Aubrey Boatwright, Aurora
11. 22:01.19 – Macy Penner, Mountain Grove
12. 22:02.97 – Mayson Montez, Carl Junction
13. 22:05.95 – Mackenzie Duncan, Bolivar
14. 22:06.92 – Evie Cross, Carl Junction
15. 22:10.66 – Sarah Green, Bolivar

Top Three Girls Teams Class 1-2
1. 29 – Blue Eye
2. 44 – Strafford
3. 49 – Crane

Top Three Girls Teams Class 3-4
1. 18 – Carl Junction
2. 50 – Bolivar
3. 98 – Hollister