The only athlete who was going to beat Dodge City's Oscar Carmona at the Newton Cross Country Invitational was someone of similar size, strength, endurance and strategy. Almost as if he were chiseled from the same mold.
And Oscar's brother, Luis, came fairly close, but Oscar fended off his sibling to take home individual top honors. Together, the duo makes Dodge City a formidable foe in the 6A ranks.
“He's going to be tough the last four races of the season, but it's good for the team,” Oscar said. “I wanted to start in the front and I wanted to stay there. I wanted to set the pace. That's what I did throughout the race.”
Oscar crossed the white chalk stripe in 16 minutes, 36 seconds, a tad slower than he had hoped. Luis was the only other runner to break 17 minutes, coming in 19 seconds behind his sibling.
Liberal's Angel Viveros (third) and Daniel Frazier (fourth) were sandwiched between the Red Demons' third top-five placer, Layne Moe, who used a furious kick to stave off Goddard's Joseph Newman.
Oscar and Luis fell just out of medal placing individually at 6A state, taking 26th and 27th. With his younger brethren pushing right up behind him, Oscar believes they can make a run at a higher spot.
“I want to stay up with the leaders, and hopefully I can do it without getting tired,” Oscar said. “Then in the last 800, 400, push myself and try to stay up there with them.”
Oscar said the team has hopes of a top three performance at the state meet after taking seventh a year ago. Dodge City's impressive showing makes it seem possible, as its score of 40 bested Liberal's 72 and Wamego's 74.
Wamego senior Colton Butler thinks the results may have printed out differently had the Eagles been healthy.
“We were wanting to do better, but one of our runners – usually our third runner – rolled his ankle in the second mile. He dropped out of the race,” Butler said. “Earlier this week, our No. 1 runner was out for a week.”
Despite 40 percent of their top five gone, the Eagles still collected high marks, led by Colton in ninth place. Bradley Borger came in 10th, and Colton's brother Trenton was 13th.
“Once everybody is healthy again, we plan on taking (4A) state for the second time in two years,” Colton said. “We really have to lock in to other teams like DeSoto and Mulvane.”
Predictably, the girls' run ended with Valley Center's Morgan Wedekind resting comfortably while the rest of the field finished. Wedekind timed in at 14:53, 52 seconds ahead of Lawrence Free State's Bailey Sullivan, who was second.
“She's really good at making her move early, so you're kind of intimidated and don't want to stay with her,” said Wichita East's Carlin Greene, who placed fourth. “I think everyone thinks about trying to stay with her, but it's harder when you're out on the course.”
Greene sparked a sterling performance for the Blue Aces, who finished second behind Valley Center.
“We were expecting this. We've been working pretty hard in practice,” Greene said. “Hopefully once we start tapering, we'll do even better.”
Kalee Owens placed third for Valley Center. Newton freshman Sadie Winter was fifth.