The Byron High School cross country teams competed well in two meets toward the end of September.
The Bears took part in the Milaca Mega Meet Sept. 21, with hundreds of teams represented, then ran in the Zumbrota Invitational Sept. 26.
In Milaca, Byron competed in the varsity and junior varsity races with the junior varsity athletes moving up to JV for the day.
"It's a great place to celebrate running," head coach Tom O'Leary said. "There were hundreds of teams represented, covering all classes, from the smallest schools to the largest. The entire event is high energy."
The varsity boys finished 15th overall, slightly down from last year, but still strong in such a large field. The varsity girls finished 14th overall.
"Our team came to compete and enjoy the atmosphere," O'Leary said. "We saw some very strong finish times, and we also enjoyed the day."
On the JV side, the junior high athletes had a chance to run further than they have in any competition to date.
"The results of the junior high runners at the JV level was very exciting to see," O'Leary said. "They were competing not only at a different distance, but against competition that was much stronger than they have faced."
The boys finished sixth at Zumbrota in the 11-team field, while the girls took seventh.
On the boys side, senior Ian Thomason finished in sixth place overall.
"This is a competitive invite," O'Leary said. "It's good to see the guys get after it in this environment."
Thomason finished with a time of 18:57 in the 5K. He was followed closely by teammates Cam Slowinski and Tim Entgelmeier, finishing in respective times of 19:11 and 19:33. Mike Sigrist was next for the Bears with a 20:22, followed by Sam Marolt in 20:49 and Nate Peterson in 21:59.
"The guys were not 100 percent healthy, but they came to compete," O'Leary said. "They should be proud of the team results under the circumstances."
The junior varsity boys were led by Sam Burich, who finished in a time of 23:10, followed by Jarrett Nepstad, who finished in 24:04.
Byron's Ethan Grundwald placed first overall in the junior high meet, and the Bears took second.
"Ethan ran a great race," O'Leary said. "He got out quick to take the lead and had two guys from Waseca nipping at his feet for most of the race. One Waseca runner actually passed Ethan with about 600 meters to go, but then Ethan took that challenge and regained the lead to finish with the victory.
Eighth grader Aren Jorgensen placed 10th overall, while Joe Lambrecht, Joe Livingood and Dawson Ihrke also ran strong.
On the girls side, Rebecca Houston placed seventh overall in a time of 16:36.
"It was great to see Rebecca on the award stand," coach O'Leary said. "She showed her competitiveness against a very strong field."
Justine Schneider and Maddie Ford crossed the finish in times of 17:43 and 17:47 respectively. Regina Burroughs was on their heels at 18:01.
"Having a group of girls racing that close together really drives the pace," O'Leary said. "It's great to see them press each other on race day, as well as in practice."
Seventh grader Hannah Higgins was the Bears fifth runner in 19:03. Haley Abrams and Olivia Stahler crossed the finish in times of 19:43 and 20:30 respectively.
The JV girls placed fifth. They were led by freshman Alyssa Cordes in a time of 21:54. The squad was rounded out with Siobhan Chantigan, Jordyn Fairchild, Megan O'Leary and Kristina Krook.
In the junior high girls race, Megan Scheuer finished 10th, while Sydney Olson and Genevieve Brewer both ran gutsy races.