Northwest girls among best at Roosevelt Heartland Classic
A strong pack finish led by senior Sarah Barnes and junior Katie Nelson allowed the Shawnee Mission Northwest girls cross country team to finish seventh out of 27 high school programs Saturday at the Roosevelt Heartland Cross Country Classic in Ames, Iowa.
The race, hosted at the cross country course of Iowa State University, featured some of the Midwest’s best high school programs and attracted squads from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska. SMNW head coach Van Rose enjoyed the meet and described it as one of the best in the region.
“You run against great people there,” Rose said on Sunday after arriving back in town. “It has some of the top people in the Heartland region. It was a huge meet and it was very, very competitive. It’s a fantastic course — an NCAA Championship course. Everything was well run there. It’s just a great meet.”
The course appeared to meet the satisfaction of the Cougar girls as well. Barnes and Nelson took 30th and 33rd, respectively, in the field of 185 runners. Barnes and Nelson finished so tightly, in fact, that both of their official race times were listed at 15 minutes, 24 seconds.
The two were followed in short succession by senior Jessica Johnson (39th, 15:26), junior McKenzie Iverson (44th, 15:31), senior Sarah Crawford (54th, 15:41) and senior Kelsey Poston (78th, 16:01). In all, six of Northwest’s seven female runners finished in the top half of the field.
As high as their team finish was, Rose is still hoping to see a little more.
“One thing they’d like to do is move that pack up about five places,” Rose said. “Then again, this was a unique race with the large number of runners involved. The girls are not used to that many bodies on the course.”
The boys side did not fare as well for Cougar boys who finished 15th out of 24 teams. Veteran runners Kirk Bado and Clayton Henderson continued their strong seasons with finishes of 11th for Bado in 16:22 and 18th for Henderson in 16:27. However, 81 places separated Henderson and the next closest Cougar finisher. Bado and Henderson were the only two out of six Northwest male runners to finish in the top half of the 169-runner field.
“This was just the second varsity meet for most of the guys on the team, and that’s probably what it (the split) was last time,” Rose said. “We may never be able to close that gap a whole lot, but it’s going to have to get better than that. Our problem is we just have a lot of guys that haven’t ever run in a varsity race before, and they need experience quickly.”
The Cougars will return to action this weekend at the Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minn. The Griak is a favorite event for the Cougars and will feature dozens of the best high school and college programs and runners from all over the Midwest.