I love starting the season with the SE Valley Invitational each year. As a coach, having an open race with no JV/Varsity distinctions makes it the perfect place for a competitive time trial in an actual race setting. With a bunch of new faces on the team this year, we had some awesome surprises for the season opener.
Our senior boys are strong this year, but I'm grateful for the addition of our strong underclassmen to keep them on their toes and push everyone's times down. Kaeden Langfitt rocked it with a 19.23 and 9th place overall for his high school debut. Kaeden has been running 5k road races for years, so he's already a seasoned pro as a freshman. Coming in right on his heels were Hayden Klaver with a 19.27 (11th) and Alex Rosenbaum with a 19.30 (13th). Right behind the first group, we had Max Powers with a 20.01 (17th), Ben Rapp with a 20.07 (19th), and Luke Rapp with a 20.12 (21st). Overall, these are much faster times over the same race last year, and I think having the nudge from newcomers is part of the difference. Caleb Krueger came in at a 21.59 and will round out the Varsity boys group for our next meet. Having this strong of a group all within the same time frame is thrilling, and I expect the boys Varsity lineup to have a strong competitive season if they can keep pushing each other to get times down. A second place overall team score for the boys was a wonderful surprise, and the best we've done at SE Valley!
Rounding out our boys squad, we had freshman Isaiah Nebbe with a 22.44 high school debut, Logan Robertson with a 25.26, Cristian Tamayo with a 27.14, and Caleb Jacobsen with a 27.5. I am a proud coach with all of these times, and I'm especially impressed with how strong our new runners looked tonight with their first 5k race.
On the girls side of things, I knew team rankings would not be as strong since most of our runners were competing in their first ever 5k. We placed last as a team, but I'm hoping with this one under our belts, the race length will be less intimidating and the girls can start to push their times down now that they have a feel for long distance.
Angela Castro came in at a 25.36, earning her the 22nd place medal. Katherine Lopez was close to her at a 26-flat. Kylie Klaver came in at a 27.18. All three of these girls bested their time from last year's run on the same course by at least two minutes! Newcomer Courtney Harle posted a 27.53, and I'm hopeful that will continue to drop as she adjusts from sprinting to distance. Maya Jackson ran a 28.18, which was a minute and a half improvement over last year at this point in the season. Freshman Jacqueline Lopez debuted with a 28.47, and Kayleen Johnson posted a 29.33 putting her right at her consistent beginning season time.
For JV girls, we had Natalie Kirstein run a 30.27 for her first cross country experience. Brenna Harklau ran a 30.31, Jade LaRue ran a 31.11, Quinn Hansch and Maya (Cupcake) LaRue tied at 32.34, Evelyn Tevalan at a 34.3, Emma Schluttenhoffer with a 36.12, and Nicole Lorenzo with a 37.59. I look for all of these times to drop significantly within the next 3-4 races as the girls adjust to the distance and temperatures start to cool down a bit.
Overall, tonight was a great reminder of why I love coaching these kids. Every person went out with heart and determination. We try to create an environment where everyone can work hard and show continual improvement, and tonight provided a great jumping off point for the season. Thank you so much to the AWESOME crowd of parents and grandparents who made the trek all the way to Gowrie to cheer us on, and extra love to Shelley Powers for the pan of brownies for the bus ride home!