With temperatures in the low 60's and overcast skies, there were near perfect conditions Saturday morning for the third annual Palmyra Cross Country Invitational at Flower City Park.
Hannibal’s Ayden Nichols ran a near perfect race in crossing the finish line first in the boys race. His time of 17 minutes, 1.45 seconds set a new course record trumping Quincy’s Brendan Kroeger’s 2014 mark of 17:10.
Nichols was a little caught off guard by the record.
“I have battling a sickness (congestive) all week,” he stated. “But we had good weather and it was fun to get back out here and compete. I was just trying to run my best and it (the record) just kind of happened I guess.”
Nichols spent most of the race running stride-for-stride with Clark County’s Nathan Frazee but pulled away in the last 1,000 meters of the race.
Frazee, who finished second, led Clark County to the boys team title. The Indians finished with 42 team points, which were two points ahead of Palmyra.
Nichols’ teammate Carter Munch placed third overall with a time of 19:02.
The Panthers were paced by Brett Griesbaum (19:24) and Spencer Locke’s (19:27) seventh and eighth place finish, respectively.
Brock Boulware, Nick Mudd and Aaron Stamper rounded out the scoring for Palmyra by placing 13, 15 and 16 respectively.
Although the Panthers just missed out on the team title, coach Nick Koetters mentioned he was pleased with the pack his runners ran in.
“Coming in we kind of expected it would come down to us and Clark County,” the Panthers coach said. “So I told the boys they needed to try and stay as close together. When you run together like that your time is usually going to be better. Unfortunately we came up two points short, which is just a guy better here or there.”
Hannibal did not figure into the team standings, as it fell two runners short of having a complete scoring team.
Marion County, who finished sixth in the team standings, was paced by Case Wolf’s 34th-place finish. Carson Beck (22:59) finished nine seconds behind Wolf for 35th.
In the girls race, the Lady Pirates ran away with the team title. Paced by a second-place finish by sophomore Claudia Nichols, Hannibal tallied 27 points, 22 points ahead of second-place Mendon Unity.
Nichols led the majority of the race before being out-kicked by Unity’s Megan Adams in the final 100 meters.
Nichols covered the 3.1 miles course with a time of 20:58, more than a minute faster than her third-place time last season.
“Coming into the race today I was just excited the weather was pretty nice,” the sophomore noted. “I was hoping to come out and do better than I did last year and our whole team was ready as well.”
Nichols mentioned she did not have any certain time in mind, but she did have a goal.
“I started the race with one goal in mind,” she said. “I just wanted to come out and do the best I could do to help my team win.”
Teammates Alayna Pipkin (22:14) and Autumn Bigsby (22:15) finished fifth and sixth for the Lady Pirates. Kyleigh Gibbs (24:35) and Alexia Gonzalez 25:49) rounded out the Pirates scoring with 12th and 16th place finishes, respectively.
Hannibal coach Charlie Newland mentioned he was impressed with some of his new runners.
“Alayna had a super race today,” the Pirates coach said. “She is an all-state performer in track and is out for cross country for the first time. I was really impressed with her, and Kyleigh Gibbs had her best race of the year.”
Palmyra, which placed fourth in the team standings, was paced by Lydia Szarka’s 14th-place effort. The freshman covered the course in 25:11.
Lauren Reid (20), Kinsey Teimann (22), Abby Lyon (23) and Alicia Bryan (27) rounded out the scoring for the Lady Panthers.
Koetters said it was nice to get a race under the belt of his young team.
“We know our team is not overly strong, but for the first race of the year, I was happy with how they competed,” the Panthers coach said. “We just wanted to go out, run and see where we are. This course is tough and times are always slower, but we will be faster this week at Quincy Notre Dame and Fulton.”
Amy Blair was the only runner for Marion County as she finished 28th in a time of 31:22.
Girls Team Standings
Hannibal 27 2) Mendon Unity 49 3) Kirksville 55 4) Palmyra 80
Megan Adams (Unity) 20:57; 2) Claudia Nichols (HAN) 20:58; 3) Sierra Stewart (CLARK CO) 21:36; 4) Meredith O’Neill (SOUTH SHELBY) 21:57; 5) Alayna Pipkin (HAN) 22:14; 6) Autumn Bigsby (HAN) 22:15; 7) Makayla Dickerson (HIGHLAND) 22:51; 8) Katie Conry (UNITY) 23:26; 9) Madison Kauth (CLARK CO) 23:54; 10) Katie Wollmering (KIRKSVILLE) 24:06
Boys Team Standings
Clark County 42; 2) Palmyra 44; 3) Kirksville 61; 4) Highland 97; 5) Mendon Unity 135; 6) Marion County 136
Ayden Nichols (HAN) 17:01; 2) Nathan Frazee (CLARK) 17:51; 3) Carter Munch (HAN) 19:02; 4) Collin Nelson (HIGH) 19:04; 5) Corbyn Harper (CLARK) 19:05; 6) Cole Kirchner (CLARK) 19:21; 7) Brett Griesbaum (PAL) 19:24; 8) Spencer Locke (PAL) 19:27; 9) Nolon Carter (KIRK) 19:34; 10) Blaze Escamilla (COMMUNITY) 19:41