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Juan Garcia claims boys race of Grand Island Senior High Invite

Juan Garcia claims boys race of Grand Island Senior High Invite

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CAIRO — Grand Island Senior High’s Juan Garcia and North Platte’s Evan Caudy had another battle against each other at the Grand Island Invite.

Unlike the Kearney Invite two weeks ago where Caudy nipped Gracia at the end, Garcia left no doubt Tuesday at Centura Hills Golf Course.

The Islander junior took off around the 2-mile marker and didn’t look back in taking the race in 16:11.81, almost 13 seconds ahead of Caudy.

Garcia said he enjoys competing against Caudy.

“We really push each other,” Garcia said. “It’s great feeling when you win and you get pushed in doing so.”

During Tuesday’s race, Garcia led throughout the entire first mile with Caudy not too far behind. He eventually caught up with Garcia and the two runners took turns with the lead throughout the second mile until Garcia took off to take a lead that would only grow.

Garcia said he had a different mindset going into the Grand Island Invite than he did at the Kearney Invite.

“I didn’t think I got off to the kind of start I wanted to last time I ran against him. Evan just passed me at the end,” Garcia said. “Today, I tried to keep a faster pace that I could handle. I was able to push through this time.”

GISH coach Scott Hirchert said he felt Garcia’s training with base miles paid off as Centura Hills Golf Course had a few more hills than what the Islanders had seen earlier this season.

“He put in a lot of mileage over the summer and he still is doing that as well as a few base miles. That really paid off for him at the end,” he said. “I think this course is a hillier than the one in Kearney (Meadowlark Golf Course). That was pretty flat. We had some hills here today and Juan ran them very well.”

Garcia was one of four Islanders to medal, but it wasn’t enough to take the team title as North Platte edged Grand Island 46-48.

Gage Long came in third (17:27.52), while Payton Sindelar was 13th (18:26.81) and Christian Wiegert took 15th (18:34.04).

It was the Islanders’ first meet since the Kearney Invite on Sept. 11. Hirchert said he was fine with the performance considering he worked the Islanders pretty hard during the off week.

“We knew coming in that we probably would have some tired legs and it did show a little bit. But we got out and competed and treated it as a training day,” Hirchert said. “Winning a meet in the middle of the year isn’t really as important as winning a meet later on in the season. Hopefully we can peak near the end of the season.”

The girls race was never in doubt. Hastings’ Chelsey Espinosa, the defending Class B champion, took off from the start and cruised to win the race in 19:51.66, almost 47 seconds better than North Platte’s Zarah Balesi.

“I just wanted to get out and give it my best shot,” she said. “I knew the North Platte girl is a great runner and so is everyone else here. I wanted to get out, run and represent my team the best that I can.”

North Platte took the team title with 34 points, while Hastings was second with 58.

Grand Island was third with 69 points and had three medalists in Aubrey Pikop (sixth, 22:03.65), Annika Staab (22:55.86) and Meleny Ceballos (13th, 23:05.02).

“Aubrey ran a great race today as did everyone else. They’re competing and that’s what you want to see,” Hirchert said.

Grand Island Central Catholic finished fifth in both races. The girls had 111 points, while the boys had 124.

Zach Cloud was the high finisher for the Crusader boys in taking sixth (17:55.50), while Grace Herbek and Raegan Gellatly finished seventh (22:30.97) and eighth (22:31.58), respectively.

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