AP NEWS

Bulldog girls top Class D girls

October 21, 2018 GMT

KEARNEY — Ainsworth used another gold medal from junior standout Rylee Rice to claim back-to-back state titles in the Class D Girls Nebraska State Cross Country Championships here at the Kearney Country Club Friday.

Rice claimed her third individual title in as many years as she ran away from Pender’s Paige Steinman after the 1000-meter mark and never looked back.

“I was really looking forward to running against her here today,” Steinman said. “She was everything I thought she would be and then some, she is really, really good — but I’m glad I got to run against her.”

Rice methodically put distance between herself and the field on the way to her third gold.

“Rylee takes care of business in every meet,” Bulldog head coach Jared Hansmeyer said. “She’s something special — but we have a lot to go with her.”

That “a lot” was enough to bring home the team championship over North Platte St. Patrick 63-77.

“I knew as we finished, North Platte had a couple of girls finish just ahead of our three and four runners,” Hansmeyer said. “I just hoped our one and two were enough to keep us in front.”

And they were.

Ainsworth sophomore Ceanna Beel came in third in the team scoring, Madison Welch was 29th and Molly Salzman was 30th.

“I knew I had to keep running and get by as many people as possible,” Salzman said. “I was so glad I did.”

The four Irish runners were 17th, 18th, 20th and 22nd.

“I knew they (NPSP) all finished in a group,” Hansmeyer said. “This is very, very special.”

Rice didn’t share the nerves of her coach.

“I felt really good the entire race and was just waiting for my chance to get out,” Rice said. “I got to the point of the race I wanted to take over and I took off.”

“We were coming down a hill,” Steinman said. “She took off and I decided I just want to make sure I stayed in second.”

Jade Rickard of Plainview placed fourth individually while Beel ended up fifth in the individual tally.

Daisy Frick from North Central was sixth and Bree Eisenhauer of Bloomfield was 11th.

“We’ll enjoy this for a while,” Hansmeyer said. “Then we’ll get back to work.”