ROCK FALLS – Tuesday marked the start of the cross country season for the Newman Comets, but Bryson Reyes was nowhere to be found on the competition grass.
The Comet senior co-captain entered the season opener at Rock Falls' Rocket Run at Centennial Park still nursing a nagging achilles tendon injury from last season's track competition.
Filling the roles of observer and helper to coach Pat Warkins, Reyes stood by and watched his Comet teammates put together a third-place finish with 61 points.
Reyes' absence did not change the Comets' usual packing technique, as they had five runners place in the top 20.
Also absent was Drew Rosengren due to injury, providing a chance for more Comet runners to become more important to the team standing.
"I'm real satisfied," Reyes said. "Without Drew and I, we still got third as a team, and not far behind all of the other top-placing teams. Everyone was kind of sluggish coming into this one. But just the way everyone plugged through and came together, we're so happy with the way we competed today."
The Comets' other co-captain, Quincy Coomes, led the pack with a third-place finish, pacing through with a time of 16:25. After a paced first mile, Coomes started to hang with the lead pack at the start of the second mile, and held on the rest of the way.
Coomes also battled injury during the offseason, healing from a dislocated shoulder at the end of last year.
"Getting back out in the first race my senior year, it's the last time I'll ever be at this meet," Coomes said.
Rock Falls's lead duo of Brayden Hamblen and Seth Williams stayed within each other for most of the race. At about the 2½-mile mark, the two began to drift apart.
"The strategy was to hold back and don't go hard until somebody takes over – to start the race and stay with them," Hamblen said. "We were thinking that someone was going to take it away at about the first mile, so that we wouldn't have to do as much work. It ended up being me and Seth being one and two for the first 2½ miles. I just went out too hard and kept the pace. It didn't work out to plan."
"I'm not happy with my result either," Williams said. "If it wasn't so hot, I felt like I would have done better. But because of the heat and what happened with that [front] pack, I felt slow. We all felt like we were going slow."
The Rockets finished fourth as a team with 84 points.
Chris Ahlers finished 11th for the Comets with a time of 17:27. Ethan Nash (17th place) and Clay Jungerman (18th) stuck together with times of 18:24 and 18:25. Brady Osborne rounded out the top 20 with a time of 18:41.
"The first meet is always just to see where everyone's at, and just go from there," Reyes said. "For everyone to compete the way that we did today, time-wise, we can only get better. With the way that we competed today, we're looking forward to what that can be."
Nick Monkemeyer of Rockford Christian won the meet with a time of 16:22, followed by Burlington Central's Clay Musial at 16:25.
"I just did my best to stay with the top guy," Coomes said. "Nick, I knew he could probably beat me, but if I hung on, I knew I could still get a good finish."
Cambridge-AlWood finished fifth with 159 points, followed by Genoa-Kingston (161), Erie-Prophetstown (195), Oregon (224), and St. Bede (235).
Lucas White led Erie-Prophetstown with a 19th-place finish (18:40). Ian Hussung led Oregon with a 36th-place finish (20:02). Amboy, which only had two runners compete, was led by James Blackburn's 19th-place finish (18:40).