DWIGHT — Tuesday’s seven-team meet hosted by Dwight featured two wire-to-wire finishes at Dwight Country Club.
Beginning with the girls’ race, Beecher’s Aarilyn Martinez led the pack between local runners. She and El Paso’s Jenna Kent battled it out during the final leg of the race before Kent ultimately took home the first-place medal by a mere .07 seconds, leaving Martinez to take second with a time of 21 minutes and two seconds.
As a team, the Bobcats (69 points) took third behind El Paso (21) and Central (66). Aside from Martinez leading the way for the Bobcats, Beecher had additional solid performances from the Bonham sisters.
Both Sydney Bonham and Trinity Bonham finished within the top 15 to help them win individual medals. Sydney Bonham finished ninth with 23 minutes and 26 seconds, and Trinity took 14th with a time of 24 minutes and 20 seconds.
Teammates Julia Jennings and Aniya Killis finished right around the middle of the pack. Jennings took 19th (26:16), and Killis finished in 25th (29:46).
Beecher coach Nathan Swanson was unavailable to give his thoughts about the contest.
Central’s second-place finish was tops from the seven local schools, and although the Comets were unable to get anyone within the top five, that didn’t stop them from getting consistent finishes within the top 15, taking 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th.
Laney Bottorff led the Comets (23:40), followed by Madison Marquie (23:54), Marley Green (24:18) and Alana Gray (24:19). Luscentia Smolinski added a time of 26 minutes and 46 seconds to round out the top finishers for Central on the evening.
“The girls’ times were solid, but what really impressed me is that we had four girls between 10th and 15th place,” Central coach David Ladehoff said. “So, they were able to move the pack up front. ... It was a good fight to see that they didn’t seem to run with any pressure on them, and they were able to handle the hills.”
Iroquois West took last for the girls’ race after totaling 76 team points. Samantha Hartke easily had the best finish for the Raiders, finishing fifth with a time of 22 minutes and 4 seconds. Maggie Thorne (15th, 24:37), Jasmin Lopez (17th, 25:00), Tatum Wilms (18th, 25:20) and Kayla Hartke (21st, 26:54) rounded out the Raiders best runners Tuesday.
“I think we could have done a little better with the girls, and they know that,” Iroquois West coach Jim Price said. “But it’s a hilly course, a tough course, so they pulled through, and I was happy with how they ran. They put in all they can so I can’t be mad with that.”
The host Trojans lacked enough runners to qualify in the team scoring. They only had one girl runner, Mikaylah Bregin, who finished in 31 minutes and 53 seconds to take 34th.
“Mikaylah is coming off a knee injury and a head injury from basketball,” Dwight coach Anna Oelschlager said. “So, I think she did really well.”
As for the boys’ race, it, too, came down to the very last second.
Central’s Hunter Davis saw himself in a two-way battle with Pontiac’s Aidan Lee during the boys’ 3-mile race. The sophomore came into the meet winning his previous two races without much competition.
Down the home stretch, both Davis and Lee ran neck and neck before Lee ultimately crossed the finish line first by .03 seconds, leaving Davis to take second with a time of 17 minutes and 30 seconds.
“It just came down the the last bridge and the kick,” Ladehoff said. “Hunter has run away with his last two races, and so he hasn’t had to really work on his finish. So, it’s kind of tough when you lose by a yard, but he’s a junior, and it’s OK. It would have been nice for him to win three races in a row.”
His only other teammate on the evening, senior Christian Ladehoff, finished eighth with a time of 18 minutes and 20 seconds. Unfortunately for the Comets, they lacked enough runners to qualify in the team scoring.
The best boys local team score came from Iroquois West, thanks to five top-16 finishes. Connor Price (second, 17:43), Lucas Alvarez (ninth, 18:59), Ty Pankey (10th, 19:00), Jacob Kuipers (12th,19:09) and Tony Espinosa (16th, 19:45) all contributed in a valiant effort to try to take down Pontiac (42 points), which ended up sneaking by the Raiders (49) to earn first-place honors.
“I was happy with our second-place finish, that’s for sure,” Price said. “I knew it would be close; we just needed to have a couple more points and we would have been all right.”
In a distant third came Beecher, which finished with a team score of 72. They bested El Paso (82) and Prairie Central (94) by a decent margin.
The Bobcats’ top-three runners earned medals after finishing within the top 15. Russell Ward (seventh, 18:46), Aiden Ward (eighth, 18:51) and Bryce Beck (13th, 19:19) all finished in the middle of the pack ahead of teammates Ryan Gayton and Andre Kellum. Gayton finished with a time of 25 minutes and 25 seconds, and Kellum joined the scorecard with a time of 20 minutes and 38 seconds.
“I thought my boys all ran well, especially up top,” Beecher boys coach David Smulson said. “Russell and Aiden both ran a solid race. The thing about them is that they were not with us over the summer because they were soccer players, so they came over to us when the school year started.
“They’re at the early stages of their training, so the fact that they can go out there and compete at the level is really a great sign.”
As for Dwight, similar to their girls’ squad, they once again lacked enough runners to qualify in the team scoring for the boys’ race.
Michael Michon, Ethan Mack and Shawn Romanetto suited up for the Trojans. Michon led Dwight, finishing in 20 minutes and 45 seconds; followed by Mack, who ran in 20 minutes and 46 seconds; and Romanetto, who finished in 22 minutes and 49 seconds.
“Today was really great; they all set personal records,” Oelschlager said.