WALNUT – Newman has a knack for coming up big in boys cross country races.
In the Class 1A Bureau Valley Regional on Saturday, the Comets won, in part, because they had a Knack.
K.C. Knack, a freshman making his debut in the varsity lineup, finished fifth among Newman runners and helped his team amass 56 points, eight fewer than runner-up Rock Falls. Annawan-Wethersfield (76), Bureau Valley (88) and Galva (96) rounded out the top five squads.
On Wednesday, Newman coach Val Gassman informed Knack he’d be in the lineup as a replacement for Quincy Coomes, who has a bout of tendonitis in his left foot. Coomes is normally the Comets’ No. 3 or No. 4 runner.
Knack finished 25th in a 73-runner field with a time of 18:01, fifth in the lineup behind Bryson Reyes (7th, 16:44), Drew Rosengren (8th, 16:58), Chris Ahlers (9th, 17:03) and Micah Trancoso (16th, 17:35).
“I was really happy with the way I ran,” Knack said. “I just ran as fast as I could.”
It was Newman’s second regional title, the other coming in 2009 – when it won a Class 1A state title.
“They’re picking up each other, and they’re protecting each other,” Gassman said. “That’s what makes it very special. They’re not running as individuals – they’re running as one.”
Rock Falls freshman Brayden Hamblen was second with a time of 16:06. Annawan-Wethersfield junior Michael Cook won in 15:57.
“It was a really good run,” Hamblen said. “I got out pretty good, and I stayed up in front with the best runners. It was good overall.”
Seth Williams (5th, 16;25), Cayden Erickson (10th, 17:16), Kasey Anger (23rd, 17:52) and Jevon Hey (32nd, 18:23) rounded out the Rockets’ lineup. Hamblen is hopeful the team is capable of bigger and better things next week.
“I think we have the potential to beat [Newman],” Hamblen said. “They’re really good, so it’s going to be close at sectional. It’s going to be fun.”
For Bureau Valley, the top runners were Ryan Taylor (12th, 17:23), Daniel Trone (13th, 17:25) and Kane Eastwood (18th, 17:44).
There were just eight boys teams competing, and Erie-Prophetstown (6th, 140) and Amboy (7th, 179) each punched their tickets to next week’s Oregon Sectional.
Braedon Bonnell (11th, 17:18) and Lucas White (21st, 17:46) led the way for the Panthers, while Skylar Wheeler (31st, 18:18) and Ben Hosto (35th, 18:35) paced the Clippers.
Advancing individuals included Eastland’s Cooper Pauley (14th, 17:28) and Ohio’s Johnathon Schulte (34th, 18:35).
Top 3 teams
1. Newman, 2. Rock Falls, 3. Annawan-Wethersfield 76
Top individual: Michael Cook, A-W, 15:57