Carthage, Blue Eye and Spokane capture team titles at Nixa XC Invitational

By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

Nixa, Mo. — At a cool and rainy Nixa Cross Country Invitational, a trio of favorites — along with an upstart freshman — held serve during the Nixa Cross Country Invitational.

Boys Class 1-2 Race

Spokane’s Sam Shuman went out with a fast first mile and then held on to win the race in 17:00.2. Ryan Cardenzana of Blue Eye finished second in 17:23.4, and fellow Owl Grant Stewart finished third with a time of 17:49.7.

While the Nixa Invitational has long been known for hot and humid temperatures, Tuesday’s affair was 70 degrees with intermittent rain.

Shuman knew he’d have to make some adjustments to the soft course.

“I didn’t feel good off the start,” Shuman said. “But I was just going to get out there and give it my all. My first mile was a little fast, but I came off there and worked on it. I knew I wasn’t going to get a PR this meet, so I wanted to just kind of let loose, get a nice pace and hopefully win the race.”

Spokane was able to place four runners in the top ten; however, it wasn’t enough to topple Southwest-Washburn in the team competition. The Trojans placed all five runners in the top 11 spots to narrowly edge Spokane 36-38.

Top 5 Boys Class 1-2
1. 17:00.2 – Sam Shuman, Spokane
2. 17:23.4 – Ryan Cardenzana, Blue Eye
3. 17:49.7 – Grant Stewart, Spokane
4. 18:11.7 – Nathan Fletcher, Greenwood
5. 18:26.8 – Christian Long, Southwest

Top Five Boys Teams Class 1-2
1. 36 – Southwest
2. 38 – Spokane
3. 61 – Blue Eye
4. 121 – Crane
5. 124 – Wheaton

Boys Class 3-4 Race

The Class 3-4 race didn’t offer much in the way of suspense, as Lamar’s Kolin Overstreet — the defending Class 2 state champion — ran away from the field and cruised to a 16:11.0 victory. Carthage’s Mariquis Strickland broke the finish line over 30 seconds later in 16:44.9, and Parkview’s Elijah Stevens rounded out the top three with a 16:51.8 result.

In the team competition, Carthage showcased its deep, talented squad and ran away with the overall title.

The Tigers placed all five runners in the top 15, besting runner-up Lamar by a 40-93 result. Branson finished in third place with 94 points.

Top 5 Boys Class 3-4
1. 16:11.0 – Kolin Overstreet, Lamar
2. 16:44.9 – Mariquis Strickland, Carthage
3. 16:51.8 – Elijah Stevens, Parkview
4. 17:00.2 – Joe Kremp, Lamar
5. 17:04.6 – Jack Delvechio, Catholic

Top Five Boys Teams Class 3-4
1. 40 – Carthage
2. 93 – Lamar
3. 94 – Branson
4. 108 – Nixa
5. 130 – Ozark

Girls Class 3-4 Race

In the meet’s closest battle, Lamar’s Kiersten Potter utilized a late move to run away from Carthage’s Jenari Lopez (19:12.7) and Nixa’s Alicen Ashley (19:27.0) to win the race in a personal best 19:05.4.

The freshman Potter showcased some veteran tactics and patience, stalking the lead group for most of the race.

“I was thinking I should probably not wear myself out in the end,” Potter said. “I need to keep my pace and kind of tire out the person in front of me.”

Prior to the three-mile mark, Potter made her move in a wooded area and pushed ahead for the finishing stretch. Neither Ashley nor Lopez were able to match Potter’s finishing kick over the last 200 meters.

While she was confident in her abilities, Potter was a bit surprised when the opportunity to take the race over presented itself.

That said, the freshman didn’t hesitate to react.

“I was thinking I could get into the top three,” Potter said. “But when [Ashley] kind of started coming back to me, I was, like, ‘OK … I got this.’”

In the team competition, Carthage completed the sweep with another first place result.

The Lady Tigers placed four runners in the top 20 to earn the narrow, 74-80 victory over Nixa. Ozark finished in third place with 105 points.

Top 5 Girls Class 3-4
1. 19:05.4 – Kiersten Potter, Lamar
2. 19:12.7 – Jenari Lopez, Carthage
3. 19:27.0 – Alicen Ashley, Nixa
4. 20:05.0 – Mihane Nambara, Republic
5. 20:10.5 – Rebecca Loya, Hillcrest

Top Five Girls Teams Class 3-4
1. 74 – Carthage
2. 80 – Nixa
3. 105 – Ozark
4. 125 – Branson
5. 156 – Lamar

Girls Class 1-2 Race

Blue Eye’s Riley and Avery Arnold burst onto the scene as freshmen with a one-two finish at last year’s Nixa Invitational.

Riley Arnold went on to win the Class 1 title, and Blue Eye captured its first state championship.

While there won’t be any surprises this season, the Lady Bulldogs picked up right where they left off in November.

The twins, along with teammate Braylynn Siercks, jumped out at the gun and never looked back, setting a torrid pace on the cool, damp course.

Riley Arnold led a 1-2-3 sweep with a winning time of 19:00.3. She was followed by Avery Arnold’s 19:39.8 and Siercks’ 20:46.9.

Blue Eye dominated the team competition with all five runners jammed into the top 11 places.

The Lady Bulldogs 24-point victory bested runner-up College Heights Christian’s 44-point effort on the afternoon.

Top 5 Girls Class 1-2
1. 19:00.3 – Riley Arnold, Blue Eye
2. 19:39.8 – Avery Arnold, Blue Eye
3. 20:46.9 – Braylynn Siercks, Blue Eye
4. 20:57.8 – Grace Bishop, College Heights
5. 22:13.5 – Jaira Glaser, College Heights

Top Four Girls Teams Class 1-2
1. 24 – Blue Eye
2. 44 – College Heights
3. 58 – Sparta
4. 89 – Sarcoxie