At the head of the line on Saturday was Skyline’s Hobbs Kessler, but the next five spots were dressed in white and purple as host Pioneer ran past the Eagles 20-38 in an early morning SEC Red Division boys’ cross country dual-meet.
Kessler, who could very well end up with a state title before this season is over, was in front along with Pioneer’s Owen Johnson for most of the race. Kessler out kicked the Pioneer junior at the end to win the race in 16:26.50>
Johnson was second with a strong time of 16:30.20.
“I was coming off two really hard workouts this week and I didn’t know this course very well so I just ran along with Owen to see what he did and try to match it,” said Kessler. “If he was going to hit it hard I would try to outlast him and if he was going slow, I would try to out kick him. But I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
Kessler and Johnson are good friends and often train together so they knew pretty well what the other can do out on the course.
“I knew I had him at 3200 just by the way he was breathing,” he said. “I did a few surges to see where he was at and knew I was more comfortable at that point than he was. And training with him so much I knew how he thinks out there and just out kicked him at the end.”
Johnson, only a junior, had won his first three dual-meet races this season and has been the leading runner on a very strong Pioneer team.
Pioneer junior Henry MonteSano was third (16:34.50), senior Max Klarman was fourth (17:00.10), junior Ben Jakabcsin was fifth (17:04.60) and junior Fred Wallace ran sixth (17:06.60) for the dominant Pioneers.
Junior Sanjay Rao was seventh (17:13.10) and senior Ian Steele was eighth (17:21.20) for Skyline.
Pioneer junior Levi Straszewski ran ninth (17:22.0), Skyline sophomore Nicolas Fry was 10th (17:27.50), Pioneer junior Matt Ruud was 11th (17:30.50), Pioneer senior Collin Melnykowycz was 12th (17:33.50), Pioneer senior Garrett Kracht was 13th (17:43.40), Pioneer freshman Vincent Peterson Sand was 14th (17:47.10), Pioneer senior Clark Mitchell was 15th (18:02.00) and Skyline junior Alex Ball was 16th (18:12.80).