There’s good performances, great performances, and then out of this world performances.
It would easy to argue that what area cross country team’s (Fairbury, Thayer Central, Tri County, Wilber-Clatonia) did at the Randall Smith Invite in Hebron on Thursday was the latter.
In the boy’s division, Thayer Central took the team title with 24 points – led by Damian Stewart’s second place finish. Tri County (second), Fairbury (third), and Wilber-Clatonia (fourth) rounded out the top four team finishes at the 10-team event.
Fairbury edged Thayer Central by two points (42-44) for the girl’s team crown. The Lady Jeffs depth played an important role in winning the team title. All four runners scoring points placed inside the top 16.
Tri County finished third, just four points behind Thayer Central with a total of 48, and Wilber-Clatonia placed seventh as a team out of nine squads in the division with 112 points.
Here is a team-by-team breakdown of the event that took place at the Hebron Country Club:

Fairbury 
The Lady Jeffs No. 1 runner all season, Josephine Blatny, continued her successful 2018 campaign by placing fourth (22:37) and Alissa York ran the best time of her freshman season (23:58) to take eighth.
A big reason why Fairbury narrowly beat Thayer Central was a 16th place finish by Mikwena Lierman. She was six spots ahead of the Titans fourth runner and Autumn Branson, who finished third on the Lady Jeffs squad, crossed the finish line in 14th place (24:35).
The Fairbury boy’s got a career-best performance out of Braden Graham, who finished 13th to lead the Jeffs to third place in the team race.
Graham and York stood out to Fairbury head coach Kristi Peterson as runners who rose to the occasion on Thursday.
“Braden Graham and Alissa York earned their first medals, which is a special deal,” she said. “It was nice for the top four boys and top four girls to all earn medals.  That has not happened at Fairbury for many years. I appreciate the work ethic of our runners, we are improving and plan to peak in the next few weeks.”
Notable improvements from last year’s Randall Smith Invite to this year’s event was Blatny finishing 1 minute and 14 seconds faster than her 2017 time. Graham made the most progress with a 1 minute 27 second improvement.

Thayer Central
Damian Stewart and Sydney Escritt each took second place in their respective divisions to pace the Titans in a dominant day running on the links.
Thayer Central easily won the boy’s division, tallying 24 points compared to 39 points for Tri County who finished as the division’s runner-up.
The following three scorers all finished inside the top 10. Trey Fischer took sixth place, one place and nine seconds ahead of Keegan Casey. Dylan Fischer placed ninth (19:15).
“Damian Stewart ran his personal best on our course.  I was very impressed with his last mile, the two-mile mark comes at a very long, gradual hill and I felt this was the best part of his race, putting distance between him and the third-place runner,” Thayer Central head coach Andy Long said. “Keegan, Trey and Dylan finishing in the top ten was a big help in our team scoring.”
Escritt’s time in the girl’s division (22:05.7) was the fastest time recorded by a Titans runner on the course in the last seven years.
“Sydney Escritt ran a great race to finish second,” Long said. 
Kylie Pachta was second on the team, crossing the finish line in 10th place (24:05), while Alanna Fangmeier clocked a 24:17 to finish in 11th.
Long noted Bridget Linton as a runner that has been impressing him the last few races. She was fourth on the Lady Titans team, placing 22nd with a time of 26:12.
Both Titan team finishes left Long looking forward to the postseason.
“With conference and districts just around the corner I am very excited with their mental toughness and competitive spirit,” he said.


Tri County
There’s the pack of runners who take off from the starting line and stay within relative distance, and then there’s Creighton Niemeyer. By the end of the first hill of the race (about 100-200 yards from the starting line) the senior had already put himself at least 20 meters ahead of the pack and the gap grew quickly.
He referred to the golf cart -- that leads the pack the entire race -- in an interview after the competition as something that pushes him when no one else is around. That cart and his extraordinary pace led him to an individual title in the boy’s division. He beat Thayer Central’s Damian Stewart by just under 34 seconds to claim the boy’s title with a time of 17:33.6.
The Larson’s, Evan and Logan, came in eighth and 11th place, allowing their team to separate themselves from Fairbury in team race. They beat the Jeffs by 24 points. Krayten Uher placed 19th overall to cap the Trojans scorers.
The talent-ridden Lady Trojans had not placed worse than third as a team at any meet this season coming into Thursday’s competition and that trend continued.
Andie Koch and Ella Crawford led the team, as they have all season. Koch placed third (22:28), while Crawford earned a fifth-place finish (23:08).
Savannah Gerlach and Madison Kirchoff took 19th and 23rd respectively to leave Tri County with 48 points in the girl’s division.

Wilber-Clatonia
When all was said and done with Thursday’s meet, Wilber-Clatonia claimed two medals – one from third-place finisher Thomas Lokken in the boy’s division and the other coming via Karlie Cerveny’s ninth-place finish in the girl’s division.
Their two finishes along with many others left Wilber-Clatonia head coach Nicholas Behring feeling awfully good about his team’s collective effort.
“I think our kids on both sides ran well, it was nice to see Karlie up in the medals and for the boys Tom ran a great race with a tight finish for 3rd place,” he said. 
Wilber-Clatonia tallied 75 points at the meet in the boy’s division to take fourth. They edged South Central Unified by three points.
Seth Vlasak was one place away from medaling, finishing 21st (20:39) while Luke Sykes crossed the finish line 14 seconds behind him, placing 25th. Connor was the Wolverines’ fourth runner and he placed 28th.
In the girl’s division Alexa Orf placed 21st (25:36), Harley Broz finished in 44th (29:49), and Sierra Laschanzky rounded out all scorers, placing 49th (34:26).
The Wilber-Clatonia girl’s finished in seventh place with 112 points.