By RON PRESTON
The rolling hills of the Greatlife Golf Abilene course was full of cross country runners as the season opened for the middle school and high school teams that traveled to Abilene Thursday.
Andrew Schwarting, a sophomore at AHS, finished in second place in the high school boys 5K race. He opened the season with a 18:44.1 finish.
“Andrew ran well,” Abilene coach Troy Emig said following the meet. “He lost contact with the leader a little bit, but it is a learning curve and he learned from that today.”
Schwarting’s teammate Tyler Schiffner finished ninth with a time of 19:53.6 while Brendan Barnes and Erik Hageman crossed the finish line at 13th and 14th place.
The Cowboy runners finished second as a team with 57 points. Sacred Heart of Salina finished in first place with 37 points; Southeast of Saline was third with 67 points, Chapman placed fourth with 87 points. Marion slipped by Herington for fifth place 134 to 135 points respectively.
“We have some room for improvement,” Emig said. “However, I was happy with the way we went out and competed, not necessarily to win, but just go out and compete.”
Chapman High School had three medalists in the high school boys division. Cody Fischer placed sixth with a time of 19:33, Lane Coberly followed at seventh place at 19:36, while Wyatt Pryor finished 15th with a time of 20:34.
“I am just pretty darn proud of both the high school and middle school teams,” Coach Cindy Zumbrunn said. “They worked their tails off in this first meet of the season on a pretty warm day.
“Some of the high school boys ran faster today than they did at this meet a year ago.”
In the high school girls division, Sara Sanchez of Herington placed fourth in the 4K race with a time of 17:02.8. Sanchez’s teammates Kaylee Slater and Caylynn Hartman both finished in the top 30.
“I think they did really well for their first meet,” Herington Coach Julie Noeth said. “Especially Sara Sanchez, who placed fourth, which was a personal best for her and we had a couple of others finish in the top 30.”
Chapman’s Rebekah Thomas finished 10th with a time of 17:38.3.
Cowgirl Maggie Brooks crossed the finish line at 12th place and Maddie Wildman and Audrey Berkland placed in the top 20 for AHS.
Abilene Middle School’s Ben Wright won the 8th grade boy’s mile run with a time of 5:18 just ahead of Chapman’s Pierce Hayden at 5:22.4.
Chapman also had Connor Pruente and Chris Lockwood place in the top 10 of the middle school runners.
Lindsey Anderson of Chapman middle School finished third in the girls mile race with a time of 6:14.1
“I was really happy with our young runners,” coach Emig said.”We had several in the top 10.”
Complete results for Abilene, Chapman and Herington will run in Monday’s Reflector-Chronicle