Round 1 went to the Fremont girls cross country team in what will probably be the first of three meets this season where Fremont and Lincoln East will compete against each other in a team championship race.
Fremont won the Nebraska-Kearney Invite at the Kearney Country Club on Monday. It was close, though, and Lincoln East didn’t have its No. 3 runner. Fremont edged the Spartans 48-51 for the Class A girls team title.
Fremont also had one of its varsity runners drop out of the race after about one mile.
Lincoln East freshman Berlyn Schutz won the race. Fremont’s top runner, Elli Dahl, finished fifth, but the Tigers kept their pack close and got all five runners to finish in the top 17. East’s fifth runner was 19th.
East’s Jenna Muma finished fourth. But freshman Kylie Muma, who has finished near her sister in the other races this year, is injured and did not start the race. East coach Brian Kabourek hopes that Kylie will be able to return by the conference meet in two weeks.
East had won its first three varsity meets this season. The Spartans are ranked No. 1 in the state, and Fremont is No. 2. They’ll also race at the Heartland Conference meet and probably at state.
“I felt like we raced well, but I think there were parts of the race we didn’t run as smart, and I think it cost us at the end," said Kabourek in a phone interview.
East and Fremont finished first and second at state last year.
Schutz has won all four races this season. Her time of 19 minutes, 11 seconds, on Monday was good for a 26-second victory. Schutz turned in a strong finish.
“It was around the two-mile mark she was running in a pack with one of our runners, two Papio South runners and a Fremont girl and then the next time I saw her she had a 15-second lead on second place,” Kabourek said. “Considering the heat and everything like that she ran exceptionally well.”
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The UNK Invite is the largest regular-season meet and held on the state meet course at the Kearney Country Club.
Fremont also won the Class A boys team title. Lincoln East finished in fifth place, but was just two points behind the fourth-place team.
Millard West senior Adam Murphy won Class A. Lincoln East senior Thomas Oliver finished fourth. Oliver moved up about four spots in the final 800 meters of the race, Kabourek said.
At the UNK meet, runners from the smaller classes are able to move up and run in the Class A race to see where they stand. Norris senior Zach VanBrocklin did so, and finished third in Class A.
In the Class B girls race Norris senior Hannah Susie was third.
In the Class C boys race, Malcolm finished second, led by a fourth-place finish from John Swotek.
In the Class C girls race Logan Thomas from Malcolm finished third, and Lincoln Christian junior Amanda Meers finished 13th.
Lincoln East will race again on Friday at the Lincoln Public Schools Championship at Pioneers Park. The girls varsity race is at 4 p.m., and the boys at 5:20 pm.
-- Brent C. Wagner