KEARNEY — Lincoln Southwest snapped Fremont High School’s 18-year run as Heartland Athletic Conference cross country champions Thursday at the Kearney Country Club.
The Silver Hawks had five runners place in the top 10 on their way to winning the team championship with 33 points. The Tigers were next with 71 while Lincoln East was third with 102.
Fremont coach Sean McMahon said his young squad competed well on a cold, windy day.
“We ran very well today,” he said. “We brought six guys into their first varsity HAC race and put together one of the better races we’ve had at conference over the years.”
Thomas Oliver of East was the individual champion in 15:59.44. Tyler Boyle of Southwest was the runner-up in 16:04.67 while junior Owen Wagner of the Tigers was third in 16:26.77.
“Owen was absolutely in command of his game today,” McMahon said. “He made a few moves to jump packs in the first couple thousand that put him in a position to really go after last year’s state champion (fourth-place finisher Liem Chot of Lincoln North Star). That sub-16:30 was a major PR on the course.”
Sophomore Carter Waters gave a gutsy performance to place 12th in 16:54.84.
“Carter battled through a minor injury and went with the main front pack as long as he could,” McMahon said. “It was a very courageous run. To see him hold on for 12th, even through considerable pain, was a testament to his toughness.”
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Three other sophomores for the Tigers finished in the top 20. Aaron Ladd was 17th in 17:04.02 while Junior Garcia was 19th in 17:06.13. Nolan Miller was 20th in 17:08.04.
“When our third through fifth guys are all breaking 17:10, and are all sophomores, that is really something to be excited about for the future,” McMahon said.
Sophomore Tyson Baker was 25th in 17:18.30 while Andrew Blocker was 27th in 17:20.07.
“I was really pleased with how our second pack rallied,” McMahon said. “They got out well, but didn’t quite have contact with the top 25. With wind gusts around 40 mph, closing gaps was really hard to do. I just never saw Aaron, Junior, Nolan, Tyson or Andrew settle for even a second. That effort brought three of them back into the top 20 and all to course PRs (personal records). With the cooler weather, though, guys just weren’t going to come back like they did when it was in the mid-90s last Monday (at the University of Nebraska at Kearney Invitational). We will just need to put a little more focus on how we get out.”
In the junior varsity division, junior Zac McGeorge of the Tigers placed third in a course PR of 17:41. Freshman Domingo Perez placed 10th in 18:06.76 while Hazem Santos was 15th in 18:12.84.
The Tigers will race in the A-2 district meet at 2:50 Thursday afternoon at the Walnut Creek Recreation Area in Papillion. Other teams competing include: Gretna, East, Pius, Millard North, Millard South, Omaha Bryan and South Sioux City.
Team Scores — Lincoln Southwest 33, Fremont 71, Lincoln East 102, Grand Island 104, Lincoln North Star 107, Lincoln Pius 142, Lincoln Northeast 206, Norfolk 224, Kearney 253, Lincoln Southeast 258, Lincoln High 261
Top 15 Individuals — 1. Thomas Oliver, LE, 15:59.44. 2. Tyler Boyle, LSW, 16:04.67. 3. Owen Wagner, FHS, 16:26.77. 4. Liem Chot, LNS, 16:31.49. 5. Gavin Skorupa, Pius, 16:33.41. 6. Trevor Acton, LSW, 16:35.66. 7. Grant Reid, LSW, 16:43.81. 8. Drew Snyder, LSW, 16:44.67. 9. Daniel Pierce, LNS, 16:46.08. 10. Jack Nolley, LSW, 16:47.88. 11. Juan Garcia, GI, 16:49.14. 12. Carter Waters, FHS, 16:54.84. 13. Jacob Kosmicki, GI, 16:57.69. 14. Matthew Protzman, N, 16:58.37. 15. Finian Herbert, LE, 16:58.39.