The Palmyra boys cross country team came away with the team title at the Centralia Invitational.
One of the first things Palmyra cross country coach Nick Koetters tells his team before each race is the importance of running in a pack.
As the season has worn on, Koetters’ boys team has ran closer and closer to each other. Tuesday evening the Panthers put together an impressive pack of runners in coming away with the team title at the Centralia Invitational.
Brett Griesbaum shot up through the field in the final mile to lead the Panthers with a 14th-place finish overall in a time of 19 minutes, 9 seconds. Spencer Locke followed two spots and seven seconds later, while Brock Boulware (18), Nick Mudd (19) and Brady Buckman (20) rounded out the scoring for the boys team.
Palmyra edged New Bloomfield, 82-92, for its first win in program history.
“The boys ran an amazing race,” an excited Koetters said. “For our top five to finish from 14-20, that is just great pack running. We have talked all year about pack running and running as a team and it paid off greatly.”
Koetters mentioned Griesbaum was in 24th place after the first mile before climbing to 17th at the two-mile mark and ultimately into the top 15 before crossing the finish line.
Making the historic win even more impressive for the Panthers, a total of 17 teams (including four incomplete teams) competed in the invite.
“This is just an amazing accomplishment for our guys,” the Panthers coach said. “I would want to win any meet, but to do it in a meet which featured this many schools and a good level of competition just made it even more awesome.”
Included in the field of teams the Panthers beat was Clarence Cannon Conference champion Clark County, which finished 15 points behind the Panthers and in third place.
Clark County’s Nathan Frazee was the overall winner with a time of 17:57.
On the girls side, Koetters decided to give a couple of his runners the night off for rest. Freshman Lydia Szarka, who has been the Lady Panthers top runner all season, was one who was held out.
Fellow classmate Lauren Reid crossed the finish line first for Palmyra in a time of 24:08, good for 20th overall.
Reid’s time was the best mark posted by any Lady Panther on a 3.1 mile course this season.
“Lauren ran a great race in awful conditions,” Koetters said. “She runs a consistent race from start to finish, never getting out too fast and gets faster as the race goes on.”
The Lady Panthers finished eighth in the team standings.
Abby Lyon (41), Kinsey Tieman (43), Alicia Bryan (51) and Emma Watkins (60) rounded out the scoring for the Lady Panthers.
The Panthers coach mentioned despite the rainy and windy conditions, three of his five runners set personal records with a fourth “missing by about 10 seconds.”
In the junior varsity race, Zach Rosenkrans placed second overall to pace the Panther boys team to a second-place finish. Rosenkrans crossed the finish line just 16 ticks behind Mexico’s Tyler Quinlan.
Boyd Triplett placed in the top 10 with in sixth-place finish in 21:36, while Jared DeHaan (11), Owen Szarka (14) and Aaron Stamper (28) rounded out the scoring.
“When I found out those guys finished second, I was pumped for them,” Koetters said. “They don’t get the same recognition sometimes that our varsity does get, but they put in just as much work and it showed.”
The Panther teams will be back in action on Saturday during the Highland Invitational.