ERIE – Sterling Newman coach Val Gassman forgot to bring the traveling trophy that went with winning the 2012 Three Rivers boys cross country race.
As it turned out, it wasn’t an issue.
The Comets placed five runners in the top seven to cruise to the team title Tuesday at Lake Erie Golf Course. Newman finished with a mere 20 points, ahead of runner-up Bureau Valley, which had 71.
Hall (88), Erie-Prophetstown (90) and Sherrard (137) rounded out the top five squads.
Hall junior Al Baldonado won the race with a time of 16 minutes, 17 seconds. Kewanee’s Rolando Aguilar finished third in 16:31, then came a pack of four Newman runners: Chris Ahlers (16:34), Quincy Coomes (17:00), Drew Rosengren (17:01) and Micah Trancoso (17:25).
With the team race all but decided, the only real drama was who the top individual was going to be. Hall’s Al Baldonado and Reyes were neck-and-neck down the stretch, and it was the Red Devil who had the goods.
“At the 200-meter mark, I could hear his coach telling him, ‘Go now, go now,’ so it was like, I have to go now with him,” said Baldonado, who also has won titles at Oregon and Kewanee this season. “He was getting ahead of me, but when we turned for the finish, I gave it everything I had and pumped my arms as hard as I could.”
“I know he has a great kick,” Reyes said, “and I don’t have that great of finishing speed. I think it will gradually get better by the end of the season, but he has a better finish than I do. I’m not disappointed with how I ran today.”
The top 15 finishers earn all-conference honors, and Bureau Valley had a trio in that category. They were Daniel Trone, 8th in 17:38; Kane Eastwood, 11th in 17:54; and Andrew Smith, 15th in 18:12. Hall’s Sandro Aldana also walked off with a medal take in 13th place (18:07.9).
The Storm are competing without their top runner, Ryan Taylor, who injured his foot in PE class two weeks ago. His status for the rest of the season is unclear.
Princeton’s Cody Workman was nosed out by the Storm’s Smith for the final medal, finishing 16th (18:12.8).
The top performer for Amboy was Skylar Wheeler, 24th in 19:12.7.