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Matt Bowman (right) keeps teammate Eli Kaczinski in his sites as the Northeast teammates run 1-2 on Thursday at the Big East Conference boys cross country meet at Wapsi Oaks Country Club in Calamus. Kaczinski, Bowman and Jorvik Harris finished 1-2-3 and led the Rebels to the championship with 23 points.

Jon Gremmels/Clinton Herald
Herald Sports Writer

Rebels’ Casey edges Griffin for girls title

Northeast came into the Big East Conference girls cross country meet with a string of four consecutive individual championships. But, as far as coach Pat Healy could remember, the Rebels never had won the team title.

They did both Thursday at Wapsi Oaks Country Club.

Sophomore Mariah Casey won the individual title in 15 minutes, 1 second, and Northeast placed all seven of its runners in the top 20 to easily run away with the team championship. The Rebels finished with 37 points. Prince of Peace won a tiebreaker with Marquette Catholic — based on a better finish by the sixth runner — for second place after each team finished with 70 points.

“I’m definitely pretty excited, with how windy it was, with my time,” said Casey, who followed in the footsteps of older sister Morgan who won three conference titles.

Casey led the whole way, although she was pushed throughout by Prince of Peace senior Audrey Griffin. Griffin even made a run at Casey and pulled even midway through the race before Casey surged back in front and wound up winning by one second.

“She was right with me for about 400 meters,” Casey said. “That motivates me to push a little harder. I started to surge on the back half.”

Griffin, a two-time state runner-up, had mixed thoughts on the race.

“I’m happy, but I wish I could have done better,” she said. “We were pushing each other the whole time.”

Lorena Temple of Camanche claimed third place, passing defending champion Emily Franks of Northeast in the final mile. Temple’s time was 15:43, while Franks took fourth in 15:52.

“I’m really happy,” Temple, a senior, said. “It’s a good way to finish my conference season and career.”

Josye Kaczinski added a sixth-place finish for Northeast, while Kaitlynn Riley also finished in the top 10. Markel Mommsen, Northeast’s No. 5 runner, finished 16th.

“I’ve been trying to convince Josye she can run up there with them,” Healy said. “I’m happy with the way the others are coming along. Kaitlynn Riley has probably developed as well as anyone.”

BIG EAST CONFERENCE GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY

Team standings

1. Northeast 37; 2. Prince of Peace 70; 3. Marquette Catholic 70; 4. Preston 84; 5. Camanche 100; 6. Bellevue 175.

Individual leaders

1. Mariah Casey (NE) 15:01; 2. Audrey Griffin (PoP) 15:02; 3. Lorena Temple (C) 15:43; 4. Emily Franks (NE) 15:52; 5. Theresa Koos (MC) 16:04; 6. Josye Kaczinski (NE) 16:08; 7. Sarah Lampe (MC) 16:10; 8. Katherine Herrig (MC) 16:16; 9. Jackie Kokjohn (PoP) 16:21; 10. Kaitlynn Riley (NE) 16:41.

Boys claim top 3 spots, led by Kaczinski’s title

Eli Kaczinski has been running out in front for Northeast most of the cross country season. He might be hearing some footsteps now, but that’s OK. They’re the big footsteps of teammate Matt Bowman.

Bowman, a senior who towers over Kaczinski and still is rounding back into shape after missing the first five meets of the season with ankle tendinitis, stayed with Kaczinski for the entire 5,000 meters Thursday afternoon, but Kaczinski held off the charge to lead a 1-2-3 finish for the Rebels as they won the Big East Conference meet at Wapsi Oaks Country Club. All seven Northeast runners finished in the top 14 as the Rebels finished with 23 points, 41 ahead of runner-up Marquette Catholic (64).

“That was awesome,” said Kaczinski, a sophomore who dethroned Bowman as conference champion. “I knew he’d be up there, but the way he finished, holy cow, he ran a great race.”

Kaczinski won in 17 minutes, 5 seconds, with Bowman crossing the finish line one second later.

“I put in lots of miles over the summer, so I knew that good things would be coming my way, but now that they’re here, I’m really excited,” Kaczinski said.

“I was surprised,” Bowman said. “I knew I wanted to be close with him. I didn’t know I was going to be that close. One more step and I probably would have had him — one or two more. If the race had been a little longer, or I should have kicked a little farther back, but I think I’ll get him next time, hopefully.”

Northeast coach Mike Mattis was pleased to see Bowman right there with Kaczinski.

“He wanted to push him, and I told him — he did it a little bit last week (in a meet at Central DeWitt) — but I said, ‘You wait till conference and try to retain your title.’ I thought there for a minute he was going to sneak up and get him there at the end. Eli’s got a little more kick this year than he had last year, and that helps.”

Kaczinski was happy to have Bowman running with him the whole way.

“I wanted to lay back a little bit in the first half-mile and then try to take the lead, but Matt was right there so I knew it was going to be close to the end,” he said.

Both of the runners were excited by the team’s performance, too. For much of the race, Kaczinski, Bowman, Harris and Conner Soenksen were running 1-2-3-4. Eventually, Dan Schroeder of Marquette Catholic and Joe Schnier of Prince of Peace moved between Harris and Soenksen, but Soenksen wound up sixth, and Nick Anderson rounded out the Rebels scorers in 11th place. Christian Knutsen was a second behind Anderson and Brendan Butler was about another half-minute back, giving Northeast seven of the top 14 spots in the standings.

“Everybody did great,” Bowman said.

 “It was awesome,” Kaczinski said. “At the starting line we were telling all of our teammates to go like 1-2-3 and all that stuff, so they knew that that was their goal. That’s how it worked out.

“I was kind of worried,” Mattis said. “Jorvik has been sick for a week, but it didn’t look like it tonight too much. I’m ecstatic. I just want them to run that well next week (at the district meet).”

Harris crossed the finish line in 17:52.

“I’m extremely happy because over this weekend I’ve been trying to get over a cold,” he said. “I was nervous about how I’d run today. Running with sickness is pretty hard. We kind of take groups and pack run, then see how it plays out at the end of the race.”

Dan Schroeder followed Harris across the finish line and led Marquette Catholic to a runner-up spot in the team standings. Prince of Peace took third, led by Joe Schnier in fifth place.

“Joe was a little off today,” Prince of Peace coach Dave Lawrence said. “I think he went out a little fast today.”

All in all, though, Lawrence said the Irish ran well.

“The 4-7 boys all had personal records, and the top four weren’t too far off,” Lawrence said.

Although Camanche didn’t have enough runners for a team score, the Indians put two runners in the top 10. Brycen Dolan took ninth in 18:14, while Kyle Gifford was 10th in 18:15.

BIG EAST CONFERENCE BOYS CROSS COUNTRY

Team standings

1. Northeast 23; 2. Marquette Catholic 64; 3. Prince of Peace 82; 4. Preston 147; 5. Calamus-Wheatland 164; 6. Bellevue 178. Camanche also competed but didn’t have enough runners for a team score.

Individual leaders

1. Eli Kaczinski (NE) 17:05; 2. Matt Bowman (NE) 17:06; 3. Jorvik Harris (NE) 17:52; 4. Dan Schroeder (MC) 18:01; 5. Joe Schnier (PoP) 18:02; 6. Connor Soenksen (NE) 18:07; 7. Austin Kalmes (MC) 18:08; 8. Brian Willey (Prest) 18:13; 9. Brycen Dolan (Cam) 18:14; 10. Kyle Gifford (Cam) 18:15.

NORTHEAST — 1. Kaczinski 17:05; 2. Bowman 17:06; 3. Harris 17:52; 6. Soenksen 18:07; 11. Nick Anderson 18:21; 12. Christian Knutsen 18:22; 14. Brendan Butler 18:54.

MARQUETTE — 4. Schroeder 18:01; 7. Kalmes 18:08; 15. Paul McClimon 18:59; 18. Karter Kilburg 19:15; 20. Kody Kilburg 19:19; 22. Bryce Reeg 19:28; 25. Lucas Schmidt 19:40.

PRINCE OF PEACE — 5. Schnier 18:02; 13. Jacob Lehmkuhl 18:52; 16. Andrew Jacobs 19:06; 21. Dermot Bly 19:27; 27. Jacob Jankowski 20:06; 31. Caleb Kitteringham 20:30; 44. Ethan Ford 23:39.

PRESTON — 8. Willey 18:13; 24. Craiton Andresen 19:36; 29. Joe Kilburg 20:25; 41. Ville Kolani 21:56; 45. Zach Adams 23:44.

CALAMUS-WHEATLAND — 23. David Benischek 19:31; 32. Spencer Kerr 20:31; 34. Nick Timmerman 20:38; 37. Richie Pelley 20:45; 38. Josh Dierckx 20:58.

BELLEVUE — 28. Jake Schroeder 20:18; 33. Tyler Poell 20:35; 35. Taylor Jacobsen 20:40; 36. Joey O’Donnell 20:42; 39. Bryce Medinger 21:18; 40. Austin Deppe 21:34; 42. Josh Blake 22:53.

CAMANCHE — 9. Dolan 18:14; 10. Gifford 18:15; 19. Logan Petersen 19:17; 26. Sam Wolf 20:05.

Wheelchair Division

Drake Sachsenmaier (Cam) 23:21.

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