LOWDEN — For the second straight year, the Central DeWitt girls cross country team gave the Observer-area a titlist at Monday’s Bill Bails Invitational.
And this time the Sabers had company.
With two runners in the top five and six competitors among the top 20, Central claimed its second straight team title at the meet with 29 points.
That was 16 points clear of runner-up Northeast, who had four runners in the top 15.
The Rebels boys, meanwhile, made it a title sweep for the area, using an individual title from senior Andrew Hilgendorf to cruise to their team title with 34 points.
That was nearly 30 points better than second place Vinton-Shellsburg (62 points). Central won a tiebreaker with Durant for third as both teams scored 77 points.
Hilgendorf had his own comfortable victory. He was the only runner to finish under 18 minutes — he crossed the finish in 17:57 — while finishing 43 seconds clear of the rest of the field.
Junior teammate Thomas Machande joined Hilgendorf in the top five, finishing right at fifth with a clocking of 19:25.
Northeast’s Joe Hasken and Jace Rathje finished within a second of each other — clocking in at 20:34 and 20:35, respectively — to finish 12th and 13th, while freshman Daniel Rowland was just three seconds back in 16th to finish off the Rebels’ team score (not to be outdone, senior Chad Williams was 18th in 20:51).
Sabers sophomore Blake Gerard gave Central its own runner in the top 10 as he took ninth with a clocking of 20:16.
Senior Tanner Naeve added a 17th-place clocking of 20:41, while junior Jack Campbell and freshman Matthew Watters also finished in the top 25, taking 23rd (in 21:17) and 25th (in 21:21), respectively.
Sophomore Jackson Kutka capped off Central’s team score with his 28th-place time of 21:38, while Briar Baxter gave the Sabers the tiebreaker edge by finishing right behind Kutka in 29th (the sixth runner’s placing decides the tiebreak, Baxter was 29th, his Durant counterpart was 45th).
Senior Karsen Kettwick wrapped everything up, finishing 33rd in 23:02.
Area girls runners accounted for four of the first six finishers in their race.
West Liberty’s Jimena Fierro won the race in 20:55, but she was followed, in turn, by Central senior Carly Small, who took second in 21:30, and Northeast freshman Cenady Soenksen, who was third in 21:51.
Sabers senior Kyleen Irwin was fifth in 22:29 and she was followed by Rebels freshman Grace Ketelsen, who clocked in at 23:32.
Junior Kami Zeimet gave the Sabers a third runner in the top 10 as she finished right at 10th with a clocking of 24:12 — one spot and three seconds ahead of her senior teammate Hannah Payne.
Senior Crystal Burke wrapped up the Sabers’ team score with a 17th-place time of 25:18 and she was also followed by a teammate, freshman EmmaGrace Hartman, who took 18th in 25:27.
Freshman Reagan Hofer capped off the Sabers’ day, taking 28th in 28:16.
Right behind Payne was Northeast freshman Faith Ketelsen, who was 12th in 24:28. Fellow freshman Natalie Krogman added a 15th-place time of 25:09, while junior Emma Ketelsen finished off Northeast’s team score with a 34th-place time of 36:25.
The Rebels produced the champion in the girls junior varsity race as sophomore Annika Regenwether clocked in at 26:11 — 36 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
She was joined in the top 10 by six different Central runners — Anna Fielding, Hannah Sunday, Savanah Meyne, Zoey Tiefenthaler, Alexis VanZee and Annabelle Schneider — while a seventh, Grace Mosier, finished 11th.
The Sabers had three runners make the top five in the boys JV race.
Trevor Yackle was second in 21:11, while Brandon Burken and Colby Cornelius finished back-to-back in fourth and fifth in 22:29 and 22:32.
Fellow Saber, Logan Hansen was seventh, leading a parade of area runners. In fact, the next 11 runners to finish after Hansen were either Sabers or Rebels.