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The Shelby County boys' and girls' cross country teams were near the top individually and with team scores in Saturday's Shelby County Invitational.
On the boys' side, Stacey Eden led the Rockets with a second place finish behind Male's Steve Mize. On the girls' side, Shelby's Caterina Karas was third, just seconds behind Maggie Mattingly of John Hardin and Maria Frigo of St. Henry.
The Rockets were running without two of the top runners, and still trying to settle on their top seven.
Eden has had a lock on the top spot, but Alec Zaremba and Jonathan Pernell both were out and likely would be in the team's top four or five.
"We had a little more distance between us and Butler than I would've liked, but I thought our guys came out and ran hard," SCHS head coach Randall McDowell said. "It gave us an opportunity to see what we can do against them head-to-head."
Butler won the meet with a team score of 50 and Shelby County was second with a score of 80.
"I was really pleased that we got second because Dunbar is a strong team as well," McDowell said. "Running without Alec and Jonathan, we're still working out who's going to step up for those guys."
J.J. Depasco moved into the team's No. 2 spot, finishing 11th overall, and rounding out the team's top six were: William Thompson - 24th, Zach Carter - 26th, Reid Stivers - 30th and Daniel Quire - 35th. There were 96 individual runners in the race.
Even with injuries McDowell said his team's goals are high. Pernell should return, but no timetable has been set for Zaremba, the team's No. 2 runner to start the season.
"We're still a strong team this year, our expectations are still high," he said. "We have a lot of room for improvement, and the guys realize what they need to do. I have a lot of confidence in the team, and they have confidence that they'll continue to improve."
Karas, with a third place finish overall, led the way for Shelby County, pushing the Lady Rockets to a third place finish out of nine teams.
Dunbar took first with 45 points, St. Henry (the reigning Class A champion) was second with 47 and Shelby was third with 75.
While Karas was third, rounding out the Lady Rockets top seven were: Taylor Webb - 12th, Janelle Solinger - 18th, Kaitlyn Eyle - 25th, Alyssa Anderson - 29th, Tiffany Sharber - 36th and Marissa Raisor - 44th. There were 80 individual girls in the meet.
Most impressive for the Lady Rockets was the team's make up. Of the top seven only Raisor and Solinger are upperclassmen -- Solinger is the team's only senior, Webb and Eyle are both eighth-graders, while Karas is just a freshman.