HHS cross country runners Natalie Clinton (549), Summer Bittle (547) and Hannah Kinworthy (616) compete at the annual Licking Wildcat Invitational on Thursday. Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

Houston cross country runners turned in more good performances Thursday at the annual Licking Wildcat Invitational at Deer Lick Park in Licking.

In high school competition, Houston’s boys took second among six squads with enough runners to generate a team score, trailing only Alton.

Freshman Warren Hinkle led the bunched-up Tigers, finishing ninth in a field of 55 with a time of 19:25.41 on the flat 3.1-mile course. Next across the line for Houston was junior Jake Allen, who came in 10th at 19:34.99, while junior Aiden Kelly was right behind in 11th at 19:49.51, freshman Jack Sawyer ran 14th at 20:06.60 and sophomore Riley Talbott rounded out the Tigers’ score by placing 17th at 20:08.43.

Alton junior Rydan Deckard won the race with a time of 17:16.52, more than a minute faster than the runner-up.

Only two teams generated team scores in high school girls racing, with Houston topping Thayer.

Sophomore Kristen Ely paced the Lady Tigers again, finishing 4th in a field of 31 with a time of 23:12.33. Sophomore Summer Bittle finished next for Houston, placing 7th at 24:34.39, while freshman Natalie Clinton ran 10th at 26:04.62, sophomore Allie Benoist came in 18th at 26:15.72 and junior Miah Bressie placed 20th at 27:24.21.

Lady Tigers runners gather around the championship plaque after taking first place in the team standings at the annual Licking Wildcat Invitational Thursday at Deer Lick Park in Licking. From left, Hannah Kinworthy, Kristen Ely, Allie Benoist, Summer Bittle, Natalie Clinton and Miah Bressie.

Cabool junior Hannah McCroskey won the race with a time of 22:40.97.

In middle school racing, Houston 8th-grader Dillon Shelton took third in a field of 70 in the boys race with a time of 10:49 on the 2,500-meter course, while HMS 7th-grader Jessyn Allen placed 15th in a field of 68 girls with a time of 12:33.

HHS boys and girls runners will compete Monday in the South Central Association conference championship meet at Willow Springs Municipal Golf Course.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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