The Milford boys’ cross country team started its defense of its 2020 Class C state title with two top performances last week.
The Eagles were the top Class C/D team at the Charlie Thorell Invitational in Seward Sept. 2 and won the Minden Invitational Sept. 4.
Coach Michele Kontor tried to keep expectations low for the meet in Seward.
“I told the boys you have to start somewhere,” she said. “They rocked it.”
The Eagles finished sixth overall. The last time they won the C/D title was in 2015 when they were fourth overall, Kontor said.
Elliott Reitz led the way for MHS, placing 16th with a time of 17:30.92.
“From the get-go he established himself,” Kontor said.
Maddox Baack was 25th, Kaleb Eickhoff 30th, Carter Roth 34th and Gavin Dunlap 43rd. The gap between Reitz and Dunlap was just over a minute.
Hudson Mullet is recovering from a broken foot suffered this summer, so he’s working his way into shape. Landon Lautzenhiser set a personal best time and was ninth in the JV standings, Kontor said.
Milford had just four girls run at Seward. Eliza McGuire was the top finisher in 71st with a time of 23:39.52. Ellison Piening was 117th, Victoria Mink 124th and Rebecca Freeman 146th.
“The girls are young and inexperienced,” Kontor said, adding that the race was the first actual meet for a couple.
McGuire is the team’s leader and a returning letter winner from last year’s state qualifying team. She cut almost a minute off her time from last year’s Thorell Invite.
Kontor was pleased with how everyone ran the tough hills on the course at Concordia University.
The Eagles competed in Minden less than 48 hours later and ran well, Kontor said.
The boys’ team was the meet champion, scoring 29 team points. Eickhoff was the top finisher in fifth place with a time of 17:50. Reitz was sixth, just a second behind him, Roth seventh, Baack 11th, Mullet 12th and Dunlap 14th.
“Elliott said it was awesome to have a teammate push him at the end,” Kontor said.
The top six runners earned varsity medals and finished within a minute of each other. Kontor said if Milford’s fourth runner is within 30 seconds of its first runner, “we’ll be hard to beat.”
The girls’ team was third with 44 team points. Lilly Kenning, a freshman running her first race, won the event in 20:07.
“She got to the first mile and took off,” Kontor said. “She ran very well. That gave her a lot of confidence. It was great to see her lead the team.”
Kenning’s time puts her third on the all-time MHS charts.
McGuire and Mink were 12th and 13th, respectively, with Piening 18th.
The Eagles will host their invitational Thursday, Sept. 9, at Doane University. The girls’ varsity race starts at 5 p.m., with the boys’ race to follow.