NXR HEARTLAND RISING STARS RECAP
An exciting day of racing started off with the Girls Rising Stars race featuring athletes sophomore age and under. The rising stars race always provides a glimpse of what could be to come in the Heartland region as just three years ago, 2019 Heartland champ Nick Scheller was runner-up in the the 2016 race.
Eau Claire Memorial (WI) sophomore Jillian Heth went under 19 minutes for just the second time in her career and set a new PR of 18:52.4 in winning the 2019 Rising Stars Girls race. Heth was shoulder to shoulder with Lead-Deadwood (SD) eighth grader Sara Jones at the mile, just ahead of a small lead pack of four runners at the mile before she began to pull away.
By mile two Heth had surged to an 11 second lead before finishing with a final victory margin of nine seconds. Brandon Valley (SD) eighth grader Mia Wentzy was second out leaning Sara Jones who was third, both in 19:01. Manhattan (KS) sophmore Jenna Keeley moved up from tenth at the mile to finish fourth. Grand Forks Central (ND) eight grader Claire Hynek ended up fifth.
Chanhassen eighth grader Jennifer Pierson was the top Minnesota runner in the girls rising stars race in a personal best time of 20:20.9.
On the boys side Red River (ND) freshman Matt Rongitsch went to the front right away and after running next to a single runner at the mile, slowly pulled away from the field. His advantage at two miles was four seconds before he surged hard to put the race away, winning in 16:17.4, a career best by nine seconds.
Minneapolis Southwest eighth grader Sam Scott ran a smart race, moving up from eighth at the mile all the way to a second place finish, edging third place Belle Fourche (SD) freshman Sawyer Clarkson by one second. Clarkson missed a career best by less than a second in his 16:25.7 effort.
Willmar (MN) won the girls Rising Stars team competition with a 47 second spit and 21:05 average.
Wayzata (MN) won the Rising Stars Boys team competition with a 33 second split and 17:21 average.