QUINCY -- For the first mile and a half of the 18th annual Running Raider Invitational at South Park on Tuesday, Quincy High School sophomore cross country runner Fiker Rosen and West Hancock sophomore Miles Sheppard were locked in a dead heat for the top spot.
Then Rosen turned on the jets and Sheppard couldn't keep up.
Rosen won the Running Raider for a second straight year, finishing in 10 minutes, 18 seconds in a race reduced to 2 miles due to excessive heat. And for a second year, Sheppard finished second, coming in at 10:23.
The five-second difference was drastically closer than last season, when Rosen beat Sheppard by 36 seconds in a full 3-mile race, but Sheppard thinks Rosen was just biding his time early on.
"I feel like he had some kind of strategy to just wait until the end and sprint," Sheppard said. "He's a pretty good runner."
On the contrary, Rosen was actually worried Sheppard would make a final push, even turning his head a few times in the last 200 meters to check on his lead.
"This year he has been getting really crazy times, and this summer I had an injury and didn't run much and get enough mileage," Rosen said. "I had heard he was doing really great and I was really nervous at the beginning today,
"I didn't know, since he's had better times than me this year I was like, ‘He's going to get me, any time now.' I kept looking back and swiveling my head."
The rivalry between the two stellar sophomores has been budding for a season and a half now, and Blue Devils coach Matt McClelland said it is actually great for both runners.
"(Rosen) and Miles have raced a ton and I think they are figuring each other out. I hope they take it as a friendly competition. I hope they don't look at it like they don't like each other," McClelland said. "I think they compete very well together. They compete clean and that's a big thing. He did exactly what he thought he would do. Fiker was going to run with him for a while and out-kick him at the end."
Not only did Rosen repeat as the individual winner, the Blue Devils as a team were second once again with a score of 101, narrowly edging out third-place Macomb by two points. That accomplished the main team goal for QHS to beat the host and cross-town rival Quincy Notre Dame.
"Our motivation was we couldn't lose to QND. We could lose to anybody else, but we can't lose to our other city school," Rosen said with a smile. "That's what everyone was trying to do, if we couldn't win at least beat QND."
The Raiders finished in 11th in their home meet with 302 points, led by senior Sam Schlegl who placed 45th in 12:28. Devin Hermsmeier joined Rosen in the top-20 for the Blue Devils by coming in 14th in 11:36, and Ayden Triplett was 22nd in 11:53.SClBAlso repeating his placing from a season ago was Clark County senior Nathan Frazee, who took third in 10:53. Frazee was running stride for stride with Rosen and Sheppard through the first mile but fell back as the race continued. Corbyn Harper also finished 11th for the Indians in 11:22.
Liberty's Cannen Wolf was fifth with an 11:04, and Eli Newton was ninth for Illini West with an 11:16.
Kirksville was the team champion with a 66.
Kirksville 66, QHS 101, Macomb 103, West Hancock 126, Moberly 148, Troy Buchanana 150, Centralia 162, Clark County 163, Hannibal 173, Mark Twain 298, QND 302, Monroe City 309, Highland 336, Beardstown 342, Palmyra 379
Top 20 Individuals:
Fiker Rosen, QHS, 10:18
Miles Sheppard, West Hancock, 10:23
Nathan Frazee, Clark County, 10:53
Evan Aubuchon, Kirksville, 10:55
Cannen Wolf, Liberty, 11:04
Stan Melkumian, Macomb, 11:09
Braden Moore, Pleasant Plains, 11:11
Brody Orf, Troy Buchanan, 11:12
Eli Newton, Illini West, 11:16
Mervantes Butler, Southeast, 11:19
Corbyn Harper, Clark County, 11:22
Joesph Rae, Moberly, 11:32
Dominic Cahalan, Kirksville, 11:34
Devin Hermsmeier, QHS, 11:36
Kevin Crooks, Kirksville, 11:37
Patrick Ranson, Kirksville, 11:38
Nate Riddle, Centralia, 11:40
Cole Kirkham, Illini West, 11:42
Cameron Nichols, Hannibal, 11:43
Ethan Nelson, Clark County, 11:5