GARDNERVILLE — At the first cross country meet of the season — which took place before Elko County schools opened — local cross country runners got a feel for their legs and where they rank among other competitors of the same grade.
On Friday, Spring Creek and Elko took part in the Douglas Class Races — pitting runners against athletes from their own grades — kicking off what will be a long, grueling year.
For some, the meet served as the annual brush-off-the-dust event.
However, incoming freshmen competed for the first time of their high school careers.
The 2.55-mile event is somewhat shorter than a typical 5K run, the distance converting to a little more than a 4K race top open the season.
Spring Creek’s crop of ninth-grade talent fared well on the boys side, the Spartans placing second with 52 points — Elko rounding out the top-five with a total of 136 points.
In the 60-person field, no runner crossed the line before Spring Creek’s Jake Bradford — who won the race with 13 seconds to spare with a time of 14:06.
Teammate Liam Hamilton closed out the top-five in 14:43.
Elko’s top freshman was Tyler Fadenrecht — the only Indian who finished in the top half of the field — placing 18th with a time of 16:42.
Spring Creek’s Ben Claridge followed in 19th with a time of 16:59, Gage Kelly ranked 23rd in 17:35 and Colin Simpson closed in 17:39 for 26th place.
While the Spartans fielded the dominant freshmen, Elko’s sophomores performed extremely well — the Indians taking third with 65 points and Spring Creek placing sixth with 124.
Elko’s Isaiah Dahl kicked off his second year of cross country with a third-place run of 14:19, followed by a 15:39 for 14th place by teammate Philip Neff.
Spring Creek’s lone runner in the top half of the class was Dillyn Sanchez, who crossed 19th in 15:58.
Keian Lostra capped the top-20 for the Indians with a time of 15:58, and teammate Gavin Nicola crossed 33rd of the 72-athlete field with a time of 16:29.
The Spartans’ bread and butter this season will be the juniors, who ran extensively the past-two years — especially as sophomores.
Spring Creek ranked third in the team standings with 86 points, led by a time of 14:12 for ninth place by Secody Charley.
Jess Marin finished 17th for the Spartans with a time of 14:31, followed closely in 19th with a 14:36 by Harrison Walund.
Conner Gage also posted a sub-15 run of 14:54 for 21st place.
Elko’s best runner of the class was Jimmy Murphy, ranking 27th with a time 15:15.
Spring Creek’s Sam Tomera finished 29th in 15:22, and Elko’s Noah Haase crossed in 35th of the 90-person field — the largest race of the event — finishing with a time of 15:33.
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The smallest class of the boys races was tallied by the seniors — fielding just 58 runners — Elko’s Duncan Monroe leading the way for the local athletes with a time of 14:50 for 13th place.
Spring Creek’s Brian Lore was one spot out of the top half with a time of 16:54, and Elko’s Caleb Marma followed in 31st with a time of 17:03 in his first cross country meet.
While most numbers were down in each class when compared to the boys, the largest race for the girls was posted by the newcomers.
Spring Creek notched a third-place finish in the team standings — Elko not scoring as a unit — the Lady Spartans tallying 71 points.
Macey Reed set the pace for Spring Creek with a third-place run of 17:38, and she was followed by teammate Kiely Munson’s 18:53 for seventh place.
Elko’s Alysia Carr capped the top-10 with a time of 19:20, the Lady Indians’ only runner in the front half of the 52-girl pack.
Spring Creek’s Brandi Manhire crossed in 19:34 for 11th place.
For the sophomore division, one Lady Spartan and a Lady Indian crossed in the front end of the 40-person field.
Spring Creek’s Melanie St. Louis clocked in at 18:48 for 15th place, and Elko’s Kara Nicola posted a 20:46 — closing out the top half of the division — crossing in 20th place.
While the Lady Spartans do not have an extensive group of seniors, Spring Creek’s juniors are loaded and will be the defining class toward the defense of the past-two 3A state championships.
Kendra Lusk ran the fastest time for Spring Creek’s girls — regardless of class — by a country mile.
She blistered the course at Lampe Park and ranked second with a time of 15:34, teammate Grace Florence placing fourth in 17:15.
Elko’s No. 1 runner was Xandry De Arrieta, who crossed in 17:34 and finished seventh in the division.
Spring Creek’s Emma Campbell took eighth place with a time of 17:43.
There was a 10-person gap between Campbell and the next local, Elko’s Loulou Neff finishing 18th in 19:49 and teammate Briana Cortez following in 19th with a time of 20:16.
The junior field was remarkably similar in numbers to the sophomore race, fielding 41 runners.
Across the board, number were slim for the senior girls — just 32 athletes competing in the division.
The only local who crossed in the front half of the field was Spring Creek’s Rosemary Little, who notched a top-10 finish in eighth place with a time of 17:42.
Spring Creek will run Friday at the Weber State Invitational, in Ogden, Utah.
Elko will compete Friday night during the Bonanza Casino Nevada Twilight Classic, at Mira Loma Park, in Reno.