CENTRAL CITY — Megan Billington just believed at the Central City Invite.
The Northwest junior was behind Lexington's Odaliz Santoyo by a pretty good gap for a majority of the race.
But slowly Billington worked her back into the race and passed her with about 600 yards to go. She pulled away comfortably to win the girls race Thursday at Valley View Golf Course.
Lexington won team titles in both the boys and girls divisions. Lexington won the boys divison with 24 points, 16 more than Nebraska Christian, while taking the girls division with 28 points, 10 more than Aurora.
Billington, who has won every race she has competed in so far this year, finished at 19 minutes, 44.42 seconds, 16 seconds ahead of Santoyo. Billington, who beat Santoyo at the Lexington Invite by 13 seconds last Tuesday, said she wasn't really worried.
“I have a lot of confidence because I've done well this year and I have a strong kick at the end,” Billington said. “I just tried not to let the gap get too big during the race.”
Northwest coach Vince Zavala said Billington simply ran her own race.
“That's basically what she did,” Zavala said. “(Santoyo) probably extended herself a little too much in the middle of the race because that's almost what happened last week and Megan pulled away from her. She tried to change the tables on Megan and I don't know if she got tired or what. Megan really competed well and had a strong finish.”
There was a reason Billington believed. She runs with a watch around her wrist and as she goes to look at her time during the race, she sees the words “Just Believe” written on the back of her hand. It's something Billington writes on her hand before every race.
“I write that to remind me to just keep believing and not give up,” Billington said. “I've been doing that ever since track season last year.”
As for the boys race, Ord's Andrew Fields left no doubt from the start.
Fields got off to a fast start and never let up in cruising to win at 16:24.08, almost 28 seconds ahead of runner-up Hans Epp of Nebraska Christian.
Fields said he was happy with how he did.
“I'm happy with my time, even though my goal was to get under 15:30 but I can't complain because there are so many quality runners here,” Fields said. “It was a windy day. There was good competition here.”
The Viking girls had another medalist in Val Rubio, who took 10th at 22:36.95, in helping Northwest finish third with 44 points. The boys finished eighth with 117 points, with Kip Jones leading the way with a 22nd-place finish at a 19:27.22 time
“The girls competed well for us today,” Zavala said. “We had a few that are a little bit injured so hopefully we can get them healthy for districts. We still quite a bit of work to do on the boys.”
Alli Masat led the GICC girls with a fifth-place finish at 20:57.30, helping the Crusader girls finish fifth with 84 points. Megan Wardyn took 14th at 23:09.33.
Kaleb Punchocar led the GICC boys, who finished tied for sixth with 109 points, with an 18th-place at 19:18.84. However, Punchocar had to be carried off after crossing the finish line. It appeared the GICC senior had dehydration.
“Alli has been consistent all year for us and she ran another great race for us today,” GICC coach Phou Manovong said. “Megan ran well. The girls as a whole did a great job today. They've been working hard in practice and it's showing in the meets. The boys didn't have the best day with the wind. We had our top runner go down with dehydration so hopefully he's OK.”
Central City Invite
Team Standings: Lexington 24, Nebraska Christian 40, Schuyler 52, Aurora 61, Madison 104, Ord 109, Grand Island Central Catholic 109, Northwest 117, Central City 150, Twin River 209.
Individual Standings: 1, Andrew Fields, Ord, 16:24.08; 2, Hans Epp, Nebraska Christian 16:52.80; 3, Horacio Gaeta, Lexington, 17:28.95; 4, John Mark Shields, Lexington, 17:33.33; 5, Warren Dexter, Nebraska Christian, 17:46.50; 6, Cole Beebe, Schuyler, 17:58.70; 7, Alam Alvarez, Lexington, 18:05.62; 8, Ryan Hackett, Aurora, 18:18.31; 9, Ethan Bergman, Aurora, 18:23.95; 10, Chandle Flynn, Lexington, 18:24.89; 10, Chandler Flynn, Lexington, 18:24.89; 11, Cody Zrust, Schuyler, 18:28.80; 12, Isaias Solorio, Madison, 18:36.62; 14, Adrian Epp, Nebraska Christian, 18:42.42; 15, Joel Carrillo, Schuyler, 18:48.74.
Other City runners: Northwest — 22, Kip Jones, 19:27.22; 28, Mathew DUgan, 19:39.26; 33, Phoenix Kalinski, 19:54.07 35, Andrew Smith, 20:01.26; 44, Travis Bieber, 20:19.15; 45, Will Mettenbrink, 20:21.79; 52, Jerald Buettner, 22:52.04; 59, Jaydon Casillas, 21:06.95; 60, Colin Williams 21:07.80; 69, Chris Rosenlund, 21:35.58; 74, Luke McGregor, 21:44.81; 75, Riley Ostdiek, 21:45.65; 84, Dalton Elliott, 22:22.61; 101, Ruben Johnson, 26:15.41. GICC — 18, Kaleb Punchocar, 19:18.84; 25, Anders Brate, 19:33.42; 30, Joseph O'Connor, 19:49.13; 37, Ryan Bernal, 20:06.95; 51, Devon Beck, 20:44.91; 58, Darren Kosmicki, 21:06.03; 76, Adam Ziller, 21:46.27; 77, Dan Novinski, 21:48.67; 79, Caleb Wardyn, 22:07.97; 83, Brandon Houdek, 22:24.50; 96, Nathan Maginnis, 24:13.20.
Team Standings: Lexington 28, Aurora 38, Northwest 44, Ord 64, Grand Island Central Catholic 84, Nebraska Christian 87, Schuyler 112.
Individual Standings: 1, Megan Billington, Northwest, 19:44.42; 2, Odaliz Santoyo, Lexington, 20:00.15; 3, Jonna Bart, Aurora, 20:39.87; 4, Hannah Fields, Ord, 20:49.61; 5, Alli Masat, GICC, 20:57.30; 6, Katie Cumpston, Nebraska Christian, 21:26.58; 7, Miranda Marroquin, Lexington, 22:02.04; 8, Elizabeth Macias, Lexington, 22:03.23; 9, Hailey Dixon, Aurora, 22:20.66; 10, Val Rubio, Northwest, 22:36.95; 11, Ana Hernandez, Lexington, 23:00.87; 12, Sable Campa, Central City, 23:08.48; 13, Taylor May, Aurora, 23:08.84; 14, Megan Wardyn, GICC, 23:09.33; 15, Anna Helzer, Aurora, 23:09.83.
Other runners: Northwest — 18, Taylor Kool, 23:28.92; 19, Meile Rosenlund, 23:23.34.74; 20, Alyssa Retzlaff, 23:43.21; 21, Rachel Phinney, 23:56.17; 25, Alyssa Fisher, 24:58.51; 29, Regan Ostdiek, 25:08.05; 52, Samantha Sonnenfeld, 28.31.25; GICC — 34, Bailey Mues, 25:52.05; 57, Lindsay Meyer 30:12.03; 59, Katie Noble, 32:22.64.