WALNUT – When the Newman Comets boys cross country team last won a Three Rivers title, the top two runners were a Reyes and a Trancoso.
Three years later, the first names might be different, but the results are very much the same. Micah Trancoso, Bryson Reyes and Quincy Coomes all placed in the top seven Tuesday in Walnut to give the Comets their third TRAC championship, and first since back-to-back victories in 2008-09.
"Coach [Val Gassman] always treats this as another state meet for us," said Coomes, who placed seventh in 17:31. "I know I've got two great runners in front of me and two or three more behind me every race, and that's how you win team trophies. It feels good to do well individually, but it feels even better to place first as a team … and we're only the third Newman team to ever win conference. This is really special."
Riverdale's Kevin Claus won the race in 16:40.08, with Bureau Valley's Ryan Taylor placing second (16:58) and Erie-Prophetstown's Devin Johnson taking third (17:05).
But it was the flock of Comets who finished next that secured the team title. Trancoso was fourth in 17:13, Reyes fifth in 17:18, Coomes seventh, Drew Rosengren 10th (17:51) and Alex DeForest 14th (18:15). The 35 points beat out the host Storm by seven points for the team win, and kept alive Newman's season-long streak of placing first as a team in every meet.
"Our No. 4 and 5 kids did it for us today," Reyes said. "We knew BV was going to be tough, and we worked hard out there to get out strong and keep the momentum going."
Newman's other two conference crowns came with Dylan Reyes and Jake Trancoso leading the way. Tuesday, the Comets kept it in the family, and claimed the Three Rivers trophy for the final time. The trophy will stay in Newman's trophy case for good, as a new one will be awarded starting next year with the addition of new teams to the conference.
"It's important to us to carry on the tradition," Micah Trancoso said. "Everyone always tells us we're the next Jake and Dylan, or something like that, and it feels good to live up to those expectations. It's definitely a confidence boost, but we're not letting it get to our heads. We're going to keep running with a chip on our shoulders."
Erie-Prophetstown took third with 66 points, Amboy finished fourth with 110 and Kewanee was fifth with 124. Aaron Shaw was the top Clipper, placing 19th in 18:31.
BV's Taylor also credited Reyes with pushing him to his runner-up finish, and credited the friendship and competitive spirit the Storm and Comets share as being the key for both teams to run so well. After Taylor, BV's scorers were Kane Eastwood (9th, 17:48), Logan Hoffert (11th, 18:02), Colton Peterson (12th, 18:08) and Daniel Trone (13th, 18:14).
"Without Bryson, I'm nowhere near finishing as high as I did," Taylor said. "The Newman guys and us, we really push each other, and we did a pretty good job of it again today.
"I'm really happy I defended my home course, and I thought all our guys ran so great today. Kane and I get a lot of credit, but it's our 3-4-5 guys that make the difference for us."
Ever the competitor, E-P's Johnson wasn't completely satisfied with his third-place finish. But for his first big meet in a month, the Prophetstown senior realized it was a step in the right direction.
"I feel like people have forgotten that I exist in the cross country world, like maybe I fell off the face of the earth or something," said Johnson, who missed some time with a sore calf. "It felt nice to get out there and show what I've still got.
"I absolutely love to compete, and this is such a balanced group; Claus and Reyes and Trancoso and I, we've all beaten each other plenty of times. I had second right in my grasp there at the end, but I couldn't get it; I don't like to lose at anything, but it was an OK run for my first time out in a month."
Boys cross country
Three Rivers Meet
Top 3 teams
1. Newman 35
2. Bureau Valley 42
3. Erie-Prophetstown 66
Top 3 runners
1. Kevin Claus (Riverdale) 16:40.08
2. Ryan Taylor (BV) 16:58
3. Devin Johnson (EP) 17:05