By ANGIE HAFLICH
LEOTI — A cloudy day made the ideal setting for a cross country meet at the Wichita County Municipal Golf Course Tuesday.
"For our course, it's usually windy and hot so this was nice, a great change for us," Wichita County coach Shad Mehl said.
This may have contributed to some much improved times from several of the area's top runners.
Wichita County junior Paige Wells not only won the varsity girls 4-kilometer (2.5 mile) event, but she did so in school record-breaking fashion, with a time of 15:45.
Wells also broke the school record on Saturday at their meet in Tribune with a time of 16:11.
"It felt pretty good I think," Wells said of Tuesday's race. "It felt fast — especially the last half mile."
That is when Wells broke out into the lead, after running stride for stride alongside Greeley County High School senior star Kennedy Schneider.
"It's always a good race between us," Wells said. "Kennedy and I always pace each other. I think we both pushed ourselves a lot today."
Schneider finished at 15:58 and, subsequently, said she felt she had some work to do.
"Getting back into shape is tough because I run all year round and I took two weeks off before cross country started to let my legs rest, and it's taking me awhile to get back where I was during track," she said.
Greeley County junior Troy Wineinger came away with the victory in the varsity boys' 5-kilometer (3.1 mile) event, despite having just finished a road trip.
"I drove for eight hours to get to this meet so it was tough getting out of the car and running," Wineinger said. "I went out a little bit slower on my first mile and went about a 5:40 and that gave me a lot more energy throughout the race, unlike previous races where I was going at about a 5:20 pace."
Wineinger's time was 17:42, which his father Kevin Wineinger said was a huge improvement for him over last year.
"He's put in a lot of hard work and miles this summer and it's paying off — he's running 30-to-40 seconds faster than last year," he said.
Wichita County sophomore Joshua Mehl followed Wineinger with a time of 18:19, just ahead of Slade Loewen of Ingalls, who had a time of 18:23.
Ralph Stone and Martin Veleta of Greeley County, rounded out the top five.
"I did the best I could. My leg was hurting today and Troy is just such a good runner — when he gets that far ahead it's hard to catch him," Mehl said.
Kari Blattner and Joi Smith, with their fourth and fifth place finishes, contributed to the Cimarron Bluejays varsity girls' team win with 15 points.
Cimarron was also the only team in the meet that had the required five runners necessary in order for individual points to count.
Greeley County's Ralph Stone and Martin Veleta also helped in the team's win
Greeley County won both the boys and girls Class 1A team championships in 2009 and 2010, so Wineinger is looking forward to the chance on the boys side to do it again.
"We worked over the summer so I think we're looking really solid," he said. "We're going to be able to compete in another state championship and right now, I think we're looking like three-peat possibility."
See results in Scoreboard, Page B2.