The Tabor cross-country men finished near the middle of the pack in sixth place at the competitive Emporia State Invitational Friday.
“Several of the runners, they and I both know they could be doing better (if it weren’t for injuries),” coach Dan Swaney said. “In spite of that, they’re actually running some of the best times they ever have.”
Leading the men was Joel Allen, who finished the 8-kilometer race eighth in 25 minutes, 49 seconds.
“He was battling back and forth with a guy from Hutch the whole way, and the guy pulled away in the final seconds,” Swaney said.
Following Allen was Jacob Heil (22nd, 26:44), Garrett Daugherty (38th, 27:17), Nathan Vogel (59th, 27:58), Paul Williams (81st, 28:25), Bret Mueller (113th, 29:28) and Jon Gutierrez (159th, 35:48).
Heil and Daugherty, who had their second- and third-fastest times, respectively, could have run better if in good health, Swaney said.
Posting the top finish for the women was Brielle Lund, who finished the 5K race in 10th place in 18:51.
“She ran a pretty good race and she was in 12th or 13th most of the race and didn’t even move into 10th until the last 200 to 300 meters,” Swaney said.
“She made 20 to 30 meters over that last stretch. I was afraid she wasn’t going to make it, but she made a really strong charge going up the last incline, and she really took off down the hill and opened up a gap.”
Also competing were Makenzie King (52nd, 20:30), Ashley Kemling (55th, 20:38) and Hannah Holmes (81st, 21:19).
Swaney said Kemling was behind about eight runners coming up the last hill when he told her she had a chance to overtake them.
“Her eyes got big and she just took off and she caught almost all of them,” Swaney said. “She made a really good charge there at the end and had a very strong finish, so that was neat to see.”
Holmes, who normally would be the Bluejays’ No. 2 runner, has been struggling with an injury the past two races.
“That’s disappointing and I feel bad for her, but we can only manage it the best we can,” Swaney said. “We’re hoping we can get her healthy and ready to go at least by conference.”
Even so, Swaney said this year’s team is the strongest group of women he’s had during his tenure, and among the strongest in Tabor history.
Coming—The Bluejays are scheduled to host the 5-k/2-mile Fun Run/Walk Saturday at 8 a.m., and will compete at the Fort Hays State University Tiger Open in Hays.