BOLIVAR, Mo. — One is an underclassman you’ve probably never heard of, and the other is out to put a finishing stamp on a four-year career.
Rolla’s Emma Puetz and Webb City’s Ryan Riddle raced to first place finishes at Saturday’s Southwest Cross Country Coaches Association meet, held at the Bolivar Municipal Golf Course.
Following a quiet freshman campaign, Puetz burst onto the scene with a win in the varsity girls event. The Rolla sophomore led the 5K race wire-to-wire and finished with a personal best time of 19:12.97.
Rolla head coach Don Knapp credited Puetz for putting in a long summer of work to reach this point early in the season.
“We were pleasantly surprised with her race today,” Knapp said. “In track we focused on speed in the 800 for her, and then all she’s done is mileage and strength training this summer. She went to a specialty running camp out in Colorado over the summer, and I think that helped a lot. She got exposed to a lot of other kids and training out there.”
Puetz got out to a blistering start and paced the field around the two-loop course. Bolivar’s Kelie Henderson closed near the final turn, but was unable to overtake the lead. Henderson finished with a time of 19:18.61.
“I knew she was coming up close behind me, so I just pushed my hardest,” Puetz said. “It was kind of sporadic and everything. My bus got here 20 minutes before the race started, so I didn’t know the course at all. I was so scared, but I’m so happy to have gotten first.”
While the girls race unveiled a surprising finish, the boys race featured continued dominance from Ryan Riddle.
Following a strong track campaign in which he won the Class 4 3200 meter run and finished second in the 1600, the Webb City senior entered Saturday’s race focused on adding an individual cross country title to a growing trophy case.
Riddle established a sizeable lead from the gun and increased that lead as the race wore on.
By the time he crossed the finish in 15:16.36, the gap had increased to nearly a minute.
After the race, Riddle spoke favorably about the course, a new location for the area’s runners this year.
“I like the really long straightaways,” Riddle said. “The start’s really long, and I have long legs, so it’s nice to have the long straightaways to help build up speed. It’s not the time I wanted to hit, but it’s pretty close, so I’m just happy to keep working hard and try to do better.”
Nixa’s Black Procell outkicked Kickapoo’s Brenden Crews for second place, finishing in 16:13.29. Crews was third in 16:13.88.
Top 20 Girls – Overall
1. 19:12:97 Emma Puetz, Rolla
2. 19:18.61 Kelie Henderson, Bolivar
3. 19:54.54 Madison Beecher, Carl Junction
4. 19:57.74 Madeline Caruthers, Branson
5. 20:05.09 Laci Lindsay, Bolivar
6. 20:05.51 Anna Bandy, Bolivar
7. 20:12.55 Syndey Pyrah, Willard
8. 20:16.78 Ella Leach, Carl Junction
9. 20:17.43 Laurel Singh, Joplin
10. 20:19.73 Alexis Barber, Ozark
11. 20:22.01 Brittany Palmer, Webb City
12. 20:22.86 Abigail Pendergraft, Webb City
13. 20:23.81 Alexis Workman, Summit Prep.
14. 20:26.82 Camilla Roy, Webb City
15. 20:28.05 Emma Leach, Carl Junction
16. 20:30.41 Kaitlyn Franks, Carl Junction
17. 20:32.19 Abby O’Connor, Lebanon
18. 20:41.11 Krista Hilmas, Rolla
Girls Divisional Winners (By Class)
1. 20:23.81 Alexis Workman, Summit Prep.
2. 20:32.19 Ashley Knoll, El Dorado Springs
3. 19:18.61 Kelie Henderson, Bolivar
4. 19:12.97 Emma Puetz, Rolla
Top 20 Boys – Overall
1. 15:16.36 Ryan Riddle, Webb City
2. 16:13.29 Blake Procell, Nixa
3. 16:13.88 Brenden Crews, Kickapoo
4. 16:15.32 Nicholas Ondr, Glendale
5. 16:17.80 Brady Bauder, Kickapoo
6. 16:28.44 Keifer Dooley, Branson
7. 16:37.35 Haddon Spikereit, Webb City
8. 16:41.11 Trenton Wells, Buffalo
9. 16:44.83 Eros Sustaita, Nixa
10. 16:44.93 Easton Sabala, Hermitage
11. 16:47.41 Joseph Dawson, Webb City
12. 16:47.81 Jace Hull, Parkview
13. 16:51.50 Micah Bruggerman, Joplin
14. 16:57.34 Garrett Mason, Camdenton
15. 17:01.42 Alex Frisbee, Rolla
16. 17:02.74 Caleb Pyle, Bolivar
17. 17:04.26 Tyler Gray, Joplin
18. 17:05.23 Zachary Seitz, Branson
19. 17:05.23 Evan Northcutt, Joplin
20. 17:06.30 Luke Herman, Nixa
Boys Divisional Winners (By Class)
1. 16:44.93 Easton Sabala, Hermitage
2. 17:32.48 Bryson Coulter, Stockton
3. 16:41.11 Trenton Wells, Buffalo
4. 15:16.36 Ryan Riddle, Webb City