KEARNEY — In a transition season for the Kearney High boys cross country program, the feeling after the final race was one of satisfaction.
After three years of top five team finishes at the state meet and a two-time individual champion in that stretch, expectations may have been pared back some in a year with a new coach and plenty of roster turnover.
But on a crisp, clear afternoon at the Kearney Country Club, the team ended its season on a positive note.
The Bearcats placed eighth in the Class A race with 207 team points, but the team made marked improvements both from the UNK Invitational a month ago and even from the district meet last week.
“I just wanted to see them go out and compete the way that I know that they could,” KHS coach Broc Howard said. “They’ve been disappointed with some of the races they’ve had this year, but to run their best times as the state meet, that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”
The team was led, as it has been all season, by senior Keaton Lewis who placed 20th with a 16:43 time. While he was aiming for the 16:40 barrier and a medal for a top 15 finish, the time was a personal best by about 10 seconds.
Trysten Compton finished 45th with a 17:15 time (a 17-second improvement on his district time) and was followed by teammates Miguel Gomez and Robbie Potthoff, who finished 61st and 62nd, respectively.
“We did as good as we could have,” Lewis said. “We all improved today. I feel like everyone ran well, and I’m glad everyone could PR in our last race.”
It was a shared feeling amongst the Bearcat runners after the race.
“I ran about as best as I could,” Compton said. “And I think our team did about the same.”
Millard South won the Class A boys’ race with 50 team points, while North Platte’s Wyatt McGuire matched his brother Brady’s 2009 individual title with one of his own. McGuire beat the field by 19 seconds, finishing in 15:26 on the hilly Country Club course.
Historically, the results didn’t quite measure up to the almost other-worldly standard the Bearcat boys’ cross country program has produced. This was the first year since 1993 that KHS didn’t have a runner in the top 10. In that stretch, KHS has collected five team titles and seven individual winners.
But on Friday, the expectations were clear for the Bearcats.
“We were just going to try our best and wherever we landed, we landed,” Compton said. “That’s all that really matters to give it our all.”
And the senior Compton was already looking to the future, noting sophomore Gomez and junior Cannon Marchand running in the varsity lineup.
“We made the most of it,” Compton said. “Hopefully, the generation behind us can keep building on what we’ve done.”
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