BELMOND - One meet down, one gold trophy brought home.
Not bad. Not bad at all.
Running for the first time all season, No. 14-ranked (Class 1A) South Hamilton placed all five of its girls in the top 10 and ran away with the Class B team championship at yesterday's Belmond-Klemme Invitational.
Team scores were not released, but Hawks' head coach Darrell Paulsen has no doubt his squad cruised.
"When you finish with five girls in the top 10, that's a good start," he said. "We had some pretty good times and they even said it was a long course."
Just as she has in each of the past two seasons, junior Kayla Lucas showed her teammates the way and placed third overall in 18 minutes, 12 seconds at the Belmond Country Club. Meghan Fisher broke 19 minutes as well; she finished sixth in 18:59.
Rachel Huegerich (19:01) was seventh, MaKayla Monthei (19:05) placed eighth and Kali Lucas (19:47) was ninth.
Paulsen said his boys' team placed second behind West Fork, as the Hawks were led by a pair of veterans and three rookies.
Jacob Heeren started fast and stayed near the front; he sprinted across the finish line in 18:04 to take fourth.
Jacob Ratzke, who spent all of last season on the junior varsity roster after transferring from Northeast Hamilton, thrived in his first varsity race by placing 11th in 19:29.
Freshmen Hunter Johnson (13th, 19:46), Drake Thompson (15th, 20:00) and Gabe Rueger (16th, 20:09) rounded out the scoring five.
"Jacob (Heeren) went out a little too fast, but he raced against some good competition," Paulsen said. "It was nice to have Jake Ratzke run varsity for the first time and then the three freshmen did a good job."