SOUTH SIOUX CITY – The Marsha Koebernick XC Invitational was yet again a showcase for some of the top harriers in the Tri-State area.
Sioux Falls Lincoln, the defending state champion in South Dakota, swept the boys and girls team titles in Class A for the second straight season on Thursday at Covington Links Golf Course.
Omaha Gross captured the boys Class B team title while a strong season continued for the Woodbury Central/Kingsley-Pierson girls squad, winning the Class B team title, the team’s sixth in seven meets this season.
The City Meet, for the second straight year, was also scored out of the Koebernick Invite, as the Heelan girls and North boys claimed team titles over their Metro counterparts.
The Crusaders, regaining the title after finishing second behind East a year ago, were led by individual city champion Amber Aesoph and runner-up Hannah Hutchinson in a team race that was decided by five points, 33-38.
Aesoph, a sophomore, finished seventh overall and fourth in Class A of the Koebernick, crossing the line in 19:40.14 while Hutchinson, also a sophomore, ran 20:11.77 to finish 12th overall and ninth in Class A.
“There was a lot of good teams and coming in knowing there was a lot of good competition the team just tried to work hard for this meet,” said Aesoph. “I tried to get out quick and stay with the other good runners because last year I didn’t get out the way I wanted too. I was trying to make up for that this year.
“It’s pretty great (to win city). I was hoping to make up for last year with this year’s race, it was pretty important.”
Omaha Gross senior Jack Larsen, a former individual Class B state champion in Nebraska as a sophomore, used a strong final 800 surge to overtake North senior Merga Gemeda to win the overall boys race in 16:02.06.
Larsen, fourth in state last fall, was the Class B individual winner as the Cougars scored 31 points to edge Crofton and Norfolk Catholic in the team race.
It was a strong meet for the top three metro city runners as Gemeda finished in 16:07.06 to win the city title and the Class A individual race ahead of South Sioux City junior Zakariya Abdela (16:09.01) and Sergeant Bluff-Luton senior Miles Scott (16:28.26).
North, snapping South Sioux City’s two-year run as City champs, edged the hosts by a scant two points, 47-49 to claim the crown.
“It feels really great. This is what I’ve been working for the whole summer,” said Gemeda. “It feels really great and I’m so happy about it.”
Gemeda was leading the boys 5,000-meter race up until the final stretches when Larsen overtook him.
“I was really surprised," he said. "He just came out of nowhere, I was leading the race until we got to the last hill. I don’t know where he came from, but I’m happy overall.”
Yankton senior Maddy McClure, fifth at last fall’s South Dakota Class AA state meet, won the girls race in 18:42.68 over the 5,000-meter course. McClure held off a strong challenge over the last 800 meters by Sioux Falls Lincoln senior Courtney Klatt, the defending state individual champion in AA who ran 18:44.35. The times were the fifth and sixth fastest in the girls 5K history.
Meanwhile, Crofton senior Haley Arens, three times a top-three finisher in the Nebraska Class D state meet, won the Class B individual race while finishing third overall in 19:03.17, just ahead of her 19:07 time from a year ago at Covington.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Arens, third at state as a junior last fall. “I love being able to go to a bigger meet like this and being able to compete against people that you don’t get to compete against all the time.
“Having those people to push you it really helps you be able to break though that comfort zone that you run into at other races and be able to get a PR (personal record).”
Woodbury Central/Kingsley-Pierson, placing all six runners in the top 10, was again led by its strong 1-2 senior duo of Suzanne Putze and Rylee Wright, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, overall and second and third in Class B.
WC/KP junior Eric Hoffman finished fourth overall and second in Class B in 16:22.50.