CLINTON — Two Clinton High runners got an early start to a successful season Tuesday.
Clinton seniors Kim Kaster and Jessica Riojas finished 1-2 in the season-opening girls cross country race at the Ericksen Center but had close competition throughout.
Kaster won with a time of 17 minutes, 11 seconds, while Riojas, a first-timer in cross country, came in second 45 seconds after Kaster.
Clinton coach Wes Golden acknowledged that a meet like this one is just to get the nerves out of the way, but also to see how much work each runner put in over the summer.
“It lets us know who has been putting in the work, and for the kids that haven’t, it’s a reality check for them,” Golden said. “A good performance, winning a meet, it’s a good thing and it’s a good start.”
Kaster is quiet about her work ethic but knows that she has a good team behind her. Her split times were 6:42 in the first mile and 6:55 in the second.
“Our team is great this year — we have twice as many girls out as we did this year,” Kaster said. “Jessica looked really strong, and so did Sam (Wohlstadter) coming off of last year. It’s fantastic to have a lot of girls out this year.”
Kaster may not want to talk about her strategy, but Golden knows it’s a key part to her being successful.
“She knows how she runs,” Golden said. “Kim will never win the mile, and she knows that. She has a lot of confidence reeling runners in after she lets them go. There are kids who are successful in cross country know that feeling and maintain that second mile and hold in, and that’s what she did.”
Kaster reeled in Northeast’s Maddie Kaczinski and Riojas about a mile-and-a-half in.
“She’s got it, and when she does, she pours it on,” Golden said. “She’s got to hold on, and she knows girls with speed are coming and going to close the gap. She’s a very strategic runner, and she tactically had a great race.”
Meanwhile, Camanche’s top finisher was Syrene Bal, as she crossed the finish line at 18:16. Camanche had a few first-time runners competing Tuesday, and Camanche Coach Mark Metzger thought it was a good experience for them as well.
“They got a little learning in, I hope, of what a race feels like, so hopefully that will make a difference come workout time,” Metzger said. “The first meet, even for the returners, is a nervous one.”
The Indians bring one returning runner back from the 2013 season, Courtney Martens, who finished 15th with a time of 22:26.
“She had a good day, but we have young kids that I think are going to have a good year,” Metzger said.
Lexie Campie and Morgan Lyons finished 19th and 20th in the race, but Metzger has liked the improvement they’ve shown in the first couple weeks of the season.
“They’ve gotten a little stronger, and I was excited with the way they competed today,” Metzger said. “We’re still getting in shape.”
No team scores kept
1. Kim Kaster (Clinton) 17:11.97; 2. Jessica Riojas (Clinton) 17:56.38; 3. Maddie Kaczinski (Northeast) 18:12.87; 4. Syrene Bal (Camanche) 18:16.53; 5. Bailey Mensinger (Camanche) 18:33.83.
CAMANCHE — 7. Alexandra Nielsen 19:20.45; 15. Courtny Martens 22:26.02; 19. Lexie Campie 25:21.40; 20. Morgan Lyons 25:27.40.
CLINTON — 9. Emma Gettes 19:41.61; 10. Keegan Cassidy 20:25.77; 11. Samantha Wohlstadter 20:26.38; 12. Amber Buer 20:51.57; 13. Lily Gabel 21:58.47; 16. Bailey Tinderholt 22:29.30; 21. Cady Peters 25:28.25; 22. SoDa Lam 25:59.33.
NORTHEAST — 6. McKenna Franks 18:40.68; 8. Cara Soenksen 19:36.08; 14. Kayla Kenicker 22:05.85; 17. Haley Bielenberg 23:33.95; 18. Abby Rickertsen 25:17.13