Beshore delivers gold in cross country opener as Lady Tigers place second, Tiger boys fourth

Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Pictured from left: Nevada standout cross country trio Patience Lockhart, Calli Beshore, and Amara Pippin are all smiles with SWCCCA medals in hand.
Submitted photo

Nevada High’s Calli Beshore picked up pretty much where she left off last season, as the junior cross country star earned a gold medal at the season opening Southwest Cross Country Coaches Association Richard Clark/SBU Bearcat Invitational — held Saturday on the campus of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar.

Lifted by five top 25 and seven top 50 finishes, Nevada’s Lady Tiger distance runners notched a strong runner-up showing amongst Class 3 competitors, while the Nevada boys squad finished fourth out of eight Class 3 schools. The ultra-competitive meet featured 26 schools and over 1,400 registered runners, with the races formatted like the championship meet — broken up into classes (Class 1 through 4).

Beshore clocked a 20:33 en route to the first-place finish, while Lady Tiger teammates Amara Pippin placed 11th (22:28), Patience Lockhart, 12th (23:46), Maylnn Pippin, 21st (24:47); Brooklyn Kutina-Smith, 22nd (24:54); Lilly Hart, 43rd; and Haleigh Leisure, 44th.

On the boys side, senior Trent Pryor notched Nevada’s highest finish, at 20th-place (19:42). Pryor was followed by teammates Devin McHugh, 26th; Bronson Smith, 31st; Ben Sudkamp, 33rd; Caleb Theis, 38th; Jaden Ast, 43rd; and Colson Fisher, 47th.

Third-year Nevada High cross country head coach Ryan Watts said he believes the season opener will turn out of to be the toughest meet on the schedule, along with the upcoming Chile Pepper Cross Country Invitational (Sept. 22).

“I felt it would be good to challenge our kids against the top talent in the state,” he said. “While I expected us to run well, I couldn’t have been more surprised with how great we performed — both individually and as a team. “This was a great way to start the season, and reassures us that all the hard work we have put in has been paying off. We have to continue to challenge ourselves everyday and to try and improve.”

Added Watts: “It was a very hot and humid morning on the course, which added an additional challenge to an already loaded field. The best schools from all four classes were in attendance, and it was a big adjustment for us to be at such a massive meet for our first race of the year.”

Nevada’s varsity girls went first, and, given it was the season opener, Watts said they exceeded his expectations.

“They were awesome races with great first of the year times,” said an elated Watts, adding “you always have an adjustment period at the first race — even for the experienced runners getting used to running 5,000 meters again. And with the heat and the humidity coaches tend to expect the times to be quite a bit slower. But we came out and posted fantastic times.”

Watts said that with Beshore leading the charge, Nevada’s varsity girls shot to the front of the pack “and got up in the mix early on, and continued to fight to be in contention throughout the race.”

Beshore, who reeled off six consecutive gold medals during her sophomore campaign last year, started the season where she hopes to conclude it — with a gold medal in tow, and coming out on top amongst her Class 3 varsity competitors.

“Calli ran a great race, holding off charges from quality runners from Bolivar and Buffalo, who will be major competition come district championship time,” noted Watts.”

Watts said he was also pleased with the performances of seniors Pippin and Lockhart, finishing 11th and 12th respectively, and “proving that our runners with experience (were) going to pick up right where they left off.”

In their varsity debuts, Nevada freshmen Malynn Pippin and Brooklyn Kutina-Smith fared well, collecting top 25 finishes.

“I was extremely excited to see two of our incoming freshman run as well as they did in their first attempt at the 5K distance, which is twice as far as what they ran last year in eighth-grade,” said Watts. “We were dealing with some pre-race nerves, and while we knew our freshman girls had talent, you expect some growing pains in making a leap to the more challenging distance.

“Malynn and Brooklyn really rose to the occasion.”

The collective team effort wasn’t lost on Watts, as five top 25 individual finishes will typically net a top two team finish.

“Having all five of our scoring variety runners place in the top 25 in the Class 3 category was exciting,” he said. “And while we knew we had potential to be very good, we didn’t expect that kind of finish this early.”

Watts said Nevada’s boys squad, comprised almost exclusively of upperclassmen, performed well overall.

“We were really excited to see a group of such experienced runners, with one newcomer, compete against some of the best runners in the state,” began Watts. “We ran extremely well, but unfortunately for our top boys runner, Will Johnson, the conditions of the day caught up to him.”

According to Watts, “quite a few” runners pulled out of the event, unable to overcome the heat and humidity. On pace for a new career-best time, and within sight of the finish line, Johnson succumbed to the elements, as heat exhaustion and over-excursion ended his day. Had Johnson been able to stay in the race, he was likely headed for a top 10 finish.

“(Will) had to be rushed to the medical tent, and got a DNF (did not finish),” explained Watts, adding that Johnson received intravenous fluids and underwent testing. Watts said Johnson has already been cleared for Nevada’s next competition.

Despite his senior-status, Nevada’s top boys finisher Pryor, is in his first season competing in the sport.

“He has made a huge impact already in such a short time with the team. He ran a great race, and with (little) experience posted a great time,” said Watts, who lauded his entire varsity group for contributing to the fourth-place finish, one a day in which they lost their top runner.

“It was great to see our depth shine through,” concluded Watts.

Nevada also fielded a junior varsity team, with a half-dozen boys runners and two girls competing. Lady Tiger Ashley Mather placed 29th, while Keegan LeGrassa achieved Nevada’s highest JV boys finish, 50th.

“I was pleased to see a group of many newcomers and first time 5K runners attack a tough distance,” said Watts. “All-in-all it was an awesome showing for the Nevada Tiger cross country team, and really a great way to start the season, and I couldn’t be more proud.”

Up next

Nevada is set to compete in Thursday’s Carthage Invitational. Watts said the 5K trail at the city’s municipal park, “is a “tough hilly, course.”

See a future edition of the Daily Mail for all the latest on Nevada High School cross country

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