By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
That old saying about leaving someone in the dust doesn’t really apply to Riley Arnold’s performance Tuesday in the Monett Invitational cross country meet.
Any dust kicked up by the Blue Eye junior had long settled before the rest of the field crossed the finish line.
Arnold, the two-time defending champion in Class 1, won the varsity girls race with a time of 19:38.5 – two minutes and two seconds better than anyone else.
“She continues to improve and push herself,” Blue Eye coach Jacob Thompson-Krug said.
While Arnold was the only Blue Eye runner to finish in the top 15 of the small school division, the Lady Bulldogs still did enough to beat Sarcoxie, the only other Class 1 or 2 school with a full team in attendance.
Alexis Litel finished 16th, Michelle Palumbo-Lins was 18th, Sophia Palumbo-Lins was 19th, Cammie Linscott took 23rd and Madison Suffal placed 26th.
“Had a lot of my varsity runners at a volleyball match tonight so this gave a lot of my JV runners an opportunity to run today and for some this is their first time they’ve run on this course,” Thompson-Krug said. “I was proud of their outlook and their optimism coming out hearing horror stories about the hills and after the race having smiles like, ‘That was hard coach but we did it.’”
College Heights, which had four runners in the race, managed to place three in the top nine. Grace Bishop (23:19.8) was second, Jayli Johnson was fifth and Madelynn Jordan took ninth.
Sparta’s Rylie McMurry earned third place with a time of 24:34.9 and teammate Kimber Rains followed in fourth place.
Rounding out the top 10 were (Washburn) Southwest’s Allison Corwin (25:49.4) in sixth, Jasper’s Olivia Moss (25:58.2) in seventh, Sarcoxie’s Larissa Dorris (26:10.6) in eighth and Southwest’s Cally Bowyer in 10th.
Crane was led by Lauren Akin’s 15th-place finish, Marionville by Sofi Armfield’s 17th-place finish, Ash Grove by Bethany Wheeler’s 20th-place finish and Exeter by Abby Cossey’s 32nd-place finish.
Class 3-4-5 Girls
While Aurora saw Kaci Singer win the large division race and Aubrey Boatwright placed third, it wasn’t enough to top Cassville in the team standings.
The Wildcats, with three runners in the top seven, finished in first place with a team score of 44, just two points better than the Houn Dawgs.
Cassville’s Jordyn Stafford earned fourth place with a time of 22:19.9. Teammates Annie Moore and Jolie Evans followed in fifth and seventh, respectively; Marianne McCracken finished 12th, Madison Bowyer was 33rd and Ella Reuter was 34th.
“Basically it’s very consistent with what we’ve been doing,” Cassville coach Courtney Kirk said. “I think we had four girls in the top 15 today and they’re going out, they’re working together as a team and they’re kind of carrying each other through it.”
Kirk was especially pleased with McCracken’s performance.
“She’s number four on our team but she’s really stepped it up to be up there and help push our team a long,” she said. “We’ve been really excited about her performances lately.”
Leading Aurora was Singer, who won with a time of 21:40.6.
Mt. Vernon’s Rilee Simons claimed second in the race, finishing in 21:49.7. Lamar’s Kara Morey placed sixth in 23:39.4, Nixa’s Adelyn Janssen was eighth in 24:04.9, Neosho’s Bailey Miller was ninth in 24:05.6 and Carl Junction’s Hannah Franks took 10th in 24:22.6.
Clever’s Chloe Smith finished 13th, Monett’s Abigail Jastal placed 25th and McDonald County’s Melysia McCrory was 26th.
Class 1-2 Boys
When his runners reached the mile marker, Southwest coach Rusty Roe knew there must have been a mistake.
“Because when I looked at our splits at the mile I knew that couldn’t be correct, and it wasn’t,” Roe said. “We missed a part of the course.”
As it turned out, the entire boys race took place on a short course. Roe said it was about 2.83 miles in length, just shy of the usual 3.1 that make up a 5K.
“It’s what happened,” he said. “Honest mistake I’m sure.”
Roe had plenty to be pleased with, though. His runners claimed first place in the small school division while Travis Sickles was the individual champion with a time of 16:12.8.
Christian Long followed in fourth place, Caden Uthe was fifth, Otis Rainer was sixth and Roper Varner placed ninth. Lucas Lakey took 22nd.
“I’m not disappointed in any of the guys, it’s just hard to evaluate when you look at times where we’re at because the Monett course is a very challenging course beginning of the year and you kind of get an idea of how good your legs are when you get here,” he said. “It’s hard to look at and compare maybe to some of the others.”
The Blue Eye boys followed in second in the team standings, 19 points behind Southwest. Ryan Cardenzana led the Bulldogs with a second-place finish, Jadon Weaver was seventh and Alex Labrier was eighth.
Jasper’s Hunter Hinda took third and College Heights’ Rolen Sanderson was 10th.
Crane’s top runner was Jake Johnson, who finished 11th. Sarcoxie was led by Dugan Pogue’s 12th-place showing, Sparta by payton Beeler’s 13th-place finish and Marionville by Gabe Whitman’s 14th-place finish.
McAuley’s Thomas Black was 16th, Purdy’s Adrian Tate was 20th and Exeter’s Josue Alcaraz was 41st.
Class 3-4-5 Boys
Tuesday was the first time Neosho had run on the course at the Monett golf course. The Wildcats, according to coach Emily Abell, were a little “shaky” when they arrived and took a look at the hills.
“But in Neosho we run hills everyday so I told them be confident and they ran really confidently,” she said. “They ran strong and followed our leader Kaden Cole and just went for it. I was proud and pleased with the way they handled the race.”
The Wildcats claimed first place in the large school division with 44 points, besting Nixa by 19.
Cole finished second individually, Carson Newell was sixth, Collier Hendricks was 10th, Gabriel Mabrey was 12th and Bryce Hall finished 18th.
“Carson Newell is a freshman and so is Collier Hendricks,” Abell said. “I was really pleased with them and I’m excited to see what they can do the next four years.”
Lamar’s Ethan Pittsenbarger won the race with a time of 15:50.3 on the short course.
Monett’s top runner was Julio Cruz, Jr., who placed third. Carl Junction’s Collin Emmert and Logan Carnes went fourth and fifth, respectively; Lamar’s Quintin Webb placed seventh and Nixa’s Michael Eisenhart earned ninth place.
The Eagles were bunched up behind Eisenhart. Logan Richart finished 11th, Cody Gardner 15th, Zach Vaughan 16th and Caleb Gamble 17th.
Mt. Vernon’s top runner was Issac Barker, who finished 28th. Clever’s Dylan Dodds placed 35th, Seneca’s Max Golden was 37th, McDonald County’s Tyler Rothrock was 43rd and Aurora’s Angel Cruz was 44th.
Girls Class 1-2
Blue Eye 27
Girls Class 3-4-5
Carl Junction 78
Boys Class 1-2
Southwest (Washburn) 21
Blue Eye 40
McAuley Catholic 105
Boys Class 3-4-5
Carl Junction 64
McDonald County 160