EDGINGTON — Kirstie Ramsey finished just two seconds off the girls' record at last year's Rocket Booster Invitational cross country meet and made it a priority to make her mark the second time around.|
On a warm Thursday at Rockridge High School, the Annawan-Wethersfield sophomore standout not only broke the six-year-old standard by hitting the finish line in 20:03 but helped lead the Titan girls' harriers to the team title as well.
Ramsey broke the old record of 20:15 held by former Sherrard great Shelbie Pettie.
In fact, both Ramsey and runner-up Megan Grady of Amboy broke the old record; Grady finished the three-mile course in a time of 20:14 but could never gain ground on her A-W rival, who set an impressive pace right from the outset.
"That was definitely one of my personal goals," Ramsey said of breaking the Rocket Booster mark. "I want to beat the times I had last year in all of my races. I was hoping for the 19s, but when I saw the weather (Thursday), I just tried to get the record."
What's more, Ramsey headed up a strong Annawan-Wethersfield pack. Senior twins Kaitlyn and Kylie Cline finished third and fourth in 20:40 and 22:27, respectively, followed by teammate Joycelyn VanAntwerp (23:06) in fifth place.
"We've got some new runners, so we're trying to get the other people to run closer to me," Ramsey said. "We want to be a lot closer this year."
Added Kaitlyn Cline: "We're missing Olivia (Draminski, out with an illness), so it wasn't quite the same. I still think we did pretty well."
While A-W's 25 points enabled it to outdistance runner-up Orion (70 points) in the girls' competition, Lincoln Trail Conference rivals Mid-County and Mercer County ran 1-2 both team-wise and individually in the three-mile boys' race.
Individually, Mid-County senior standout Ethan Stanley topped the field in 17:39, finishing 13 seconds ahead of Mercer County's Austin Jackson. That finish was reflected in the team standings, as the Cougars struck gold with 36 points and the Golden Eagles (57) settled for silver.
"Ethan's been an amazing competitor throughout high school," said Jackson, who was joined by sophomore teammate Ethan Morrow (seventh, 19:23) in the top 10. "I try to stay consistent year after year, but he made such a huge jump from freshman to sophomore year. He's really pushed me to be a far better runner."
Stanley was joined in the top 10 by a trio of Cougar teammates — Bryent VanDeWostine (fourth, 19:05), Mike Bersell (sixth, 19:19) and Isaac Williamson (10th, 19:41). Overcoming the warm and windy conditions was part of a day's work for Stanley.
"All races at the beginning of the year are hard, with the heat," he said. "You've just got to deal with it, especially guys who have been doing this for awhile."
Other boys' runners earning top 10 finishes were Ridgewood's Dylan Brooks (third, 18:51), and Annawan-Wethersfield's duo of Noah Dir (eighth, 19:26) and Keith Davis (ninth, 19:35). Rockridge's Caleb Kibling just missed the top 10 by nine seconds, taking 11th.
In the girls' competition, Orion was fueled by sophomore Paige Stropes' sixth-place, 23:26 clocking, with teammate Tara Gambon taking 11th and finishing eight seconds out of the top 10. Sherrard's Mallory Meyers (ninth, 23:45) and Mercer County's Jenna Speer (10th, 24:18) also earned top 10 placings.
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