The Dukes’ times continued to improve at the Open Door Cross Country Invitational, held at Royal Oaks Metro Park.
Second-year head coach Bill Watters said he is optimistic about the improvement he has seen.
Leading the team for the high school boys was senior Henry Haas, who shaved 43 seconds from his previous time with a finish of 19:12, placing 29th out of 188 runners.
Following on his heels was senior Sam Becher, whose 19:14 finish earned him 32nd place and was an improvement of more than a minute.
Placing 39th was Logan Evans, whose 19:36 was a season best time. Troy Cole finished with a time of 20:02 and Nick Martinelli with 21:20, placing them 46th and 65th respectively. The team’s only two freshman are brothers Phillip and Jerimiah McKee, who battled it out at the finish with Phillip (25:11) edging out Jerimiah (25:55) by 44 seconds. Cross country newcomer Gabe Gayheart finished just behind the McKees with a time of 25:59.
The Wellington girls were led by Emily Watters, who finished strong with a time of 24:56 to place 28th out of 101 runners.
Kaitlyn McKinley trimmed four minutes from her first race, finishing at 26:06. Sisters Alyssa and Austin Krouse also improved their previous times and crossed the finish line at 27:37 and 28:15.
This year, Wellington’s junior high team is small but mighty with only three eighth grade runners and a pair from the seventh grade.
For the boys, Scott Hook placed 25th out of 122 runners with a time of 13:17. He chopped nearly a minute off of his previous personal best for the two-mile course.
The girls were led by Violet Haas (14:13), who placed 11th out of 71 runners and reduced her previous time by more than a minute. Hunter Legg improved her season best by nearly eight minutes, with a time of 16:25 and 33rd place.
Also running for the junior high Dukes are Naudika Boden and Rebecca Barnes. Although absent from the Open Door meet, Boden posted a time of 16:14 and Barnes 17:56 at the Tiffin Cross Country Carnival on Sept. 8, both improving upon personal bests for the season.
“I am quite pleased with everyone’s progress so far this season,” said assistant coach Jeff Hook. “Sam Becher’s strong placing at this meet was a highlight for me. He told me he thought he could catch up with Henry, and he did. Only Henry’s strong kick at the end of the race kept Sam from overtaking Henry at the finish.”
The Dukes will run Saturday at the JB Firestone Invitational at Black River High School.
The meet begins with the high school girls running at 10 a.m., followed by the high school boys at 10:40 a.m., junior high girls at 11:20 a.m., junior high boys at 11:45 a.m., and the elementary kids’ fun run at 12:10 p.m.