While the start had runners going downhill, the finish line came at the end of a long, gradual incline.
Arlington's cross-country season began Thursday on Boys Town's little hill, and the Eagle boys had the preseason conditioning they needed to finish their debut race with sprints, one after another.
“It just felt really good because, at the moment, you don't really feel like you have it,” senior Noah Kubat said of his final stretch kick. “Then, when you get it, it makes a big difference.”
Coach Michaela Curran's Arlington Eagles finished third in the boys' standings and sixth in the girls' at the Douglas County Invitational, which was moved to Boys Town from its usual locale — Two Rivers State Park's 5-kilometer course. Kubat led the way with a third-place finish in 18:08.63.
“It's good that our team has that mental toughness to dig down like that,” he said. “I feel like we can use that to do some great things.”
While Kubat was third, Colby Grefe came in 17th with a time of 19:40.64. Alex Luttig, who had his own big kick to finish line, was 20th and Sam Kubat was 21st.
Junior varsity runners Sebastyen Taylor, Hunter Gilmore and Ethan McGee earned medals for their own efforts, too.
“It's a lot more hillier than I remembered,” Arlington junior Elizabeth Morrison said of the Boys Town course. She led the Eagle girls with a 13th-place finish in 25:52.
Before facing those hills, however, the cross-country runners were forced to stand and wait at the start line by race officials. Morrison repeatedly slapped her legs with her hands, jumping occasionally to try and keep her nervous energy at bay.
“I tried to push the nerves away as much as I could, but they kind of got to me more,” the junior said of the long pause. “Nothing you can really do about it. I was just ready to go.”
Though Morrison was a bit disappointed with her showing in the season opener, she was complementary of her teammates. Freshman Elizabeth Olson, in particular, performed well, finishing 22nd in 27:37.
“She's doing really great,” Morrison said. “She has so much motivation and she's a really good runner.”
The Eagles' Kaylie Erwin and Jordyn Hancock crossed the finish line next for coach Curran. They took 29th and 40th, respectively.
Arlington junior high runners impress
Six Arlington junior high runners earned top-10 medals before the high school athletes raced Thursday at Boys Town.
Hailey O'Daniel, a seventh-grader, won the girls' race in 7:37.32, while Whitney Wollberg was eighth and Kelise Cook-Krivohlavek was ninth.
In the boys' race, Nolan May was third, Dallin Franzluebbers was fourth and Kolby Tighe was eighth.