KEWANEE — While the times weren't quite what they wanted, the Ridgewood Lady Spartans cross country team took home the Lincoln Trail Conference team title on a windy Wednesday afternoon.
Ridgewood edged out Stark County for first with 54 points, leading the Rebels by just six points. Kendra Downing led the Spartans with a second-place finish of 20 minutes, 47 seconds, and Miranda Reed wasn't too far behind in fourth place with a time of 21:11.
Ridgewood coach Karen Clark was proud of how her team performed, despite the less than stellar weather conditions that slowed everyone.
"Those two girls have always been in the top two or three with each other all season," Clark said. "This was the largest meet that Miranda had been to, as she's only a freshman, and she did quite well and got over her nerves."
Downing, a sophomore, pushed through the conditions to get second, but felt the adversity of the race.
"It was a really tough race with the wind," Downing said. "It was a little warmer during our race which helped, and I just kept pushing. It's harder at the smaller races to find a pace with less people to run with."
Downing finished behind individual victor Kennady Anderson of Annawan-Wetherfield. The Titan freshman finished with a time of 19:58.
The success that Anderson has had in her first year came as a huge surprise to everyone, including herself.
"I wasn't expecting to do this well," Anderson said. "This is my first time doing cross country. I run the mile for track and did this to keep in shape, but now I love it."
Titans coach Creston Fenn told his athletes before the race he wanted to see how they fought through adversity, something that they are used to in this COVID-altered season.
"Being with them all season I can tell when they have good races, regardless of what the times say," Fenn said. "It wasn't the type of day to get personal bests, but I wanted to make sure they wouldn't give up during the tough times."
"I wanted Kennedy to try and shoot for the conference record today, but it wasn't in the cards. The record is somewhere around 18 minutes, 30 seconds, and she had a time at Elmwood of 18 minutes, 53 seconds. She's so coachable and has so much to give to the team."
Other local medalists (top 10 finishers) included A-W's Danielle Johnson (7th, 22:08) and Mercer County's Maddie Hofmann (8th, 22:09).
On the boys side, Princeville took both the team and individual titles. The Princes scored 31 points as a team, and Denver Hoerr ran the fastest time on the day with a first place finish of 17-minutes even.
Mercer County finished second as a team with 45 points, and were led by sophomore Derek Coulter. He finished in 17:22, which netted him second place.
Other local medalists were Nick Jansen (3rd, 17:30) and Fernando Alvia-Rubio (6th, 18:06) of Ridgewood, Dalton Koenig-Plath of Mercer County (7th, 18:06) and Coy McKibbon of Annawan-Wethersfield (9th, 18:32).
Coulter, like everyone who raced on Wednesday, felt he could have had a better time.
"I felt off out on the course, I know I can go a lot faster," Coulter said. "I am definitely still hungry and confident going into regionals."
Mercer County plans to travel as a team to Thursday's Western Big 6 Conference Meet at Saukie in Rock Island, as they will run on that course for the Alleman-hosted regionals. They hope to make a splash in the regionals as a team.
"We're all young, we only have one junior on the whole team," Coulter said. "We have a lot of personal bests we need to set. Some days you just don't have it, and I think today was one of those days."
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