Plainville’s Aubree Dewey had modest expectations for Saturday’s Monarch Invitational at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School.

Switching up sports this fall after playing volleyball the last two years, Dewey would have been content with a top-15 finish in her cross county debut.

“I wasn’t really liking (volleyball) so I decided to try something different,” Dewey said.

She might have to elevate her goals for the rest of the season after her performance, winning the 5-kilometer junior/senior race in 21:44.4.

Dewey was running second down the stretch before powering past Lakin’s Sara White to win the race by eight seconds.

“I heard my mom yelling at me to finally kick it in,” said Dewey, also a basketball and track standout for the Cardinals. “I didn’t think I could, but I tried anyway and it worked out for me.

“It was smooth for a while and then it started getting rough. It was rough all the way until I kicked and then I stopped feeling everything.”

Dewey said her first meet will be a tough act to follow, but she hopes to continue to set personal records.

“I’m scared that it might get worse, but hopefully it gets better every time,” she said.

Hoxie’s Thaddeus Friess defended his title in the Monarch Invitational junior/senior boys race, clocking a 17:35.1, which was 28 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Mason Osborne from St. John-Hudson.

“It felt pretty good,” Friess said. “It was my PR for my career, five seconds better than last year.”

Friess, who wasn’t satisfied with how he finished the cross country season last year, said he was motivated to start strong.

“I think I could have done better at the end of the year,” Friess said. “I ran my fastest race at the beginning of the year, if that says anything. It means I didn’t train hard enough in the middle of the year to get better.

“It lit the fire for this summer. Every Saturday, I tried to get out and get a seven-, eight-, nine-, ten-mile run in. That’s where you build up your base during the summer for these races. In the middle of the race, you can think back on the 10-miler and think, ‘I can do this.’ ”

The TMP girls defended their team championship in the invite. Emily Schippers paced the Monarchs in the junior/senior race with a fourth-place finish (22:34.4). Julia Werth was sixth (22:46.4) and Emily Schulte placed 11th (24:09.9).

Hoxie’s Emily Dierks won the girls freshman/sophomore race in 21:35. TMP had four top-10 finishers in that race — Grace Pope (second, 21:56.3), Kyleigh Allen (third, 22:16.9), Abby Rueschhoff (sixth, 23:47.8) and Makinsey Schlautmann (seventh, 24:04.7).

Sheldon Weber led TMP in the boys junior/senior race with a fourth-place finish in 18:58.9. Jared Myers was 12th for the Monarchs with a 19:44.

“I was very happy with what we did today,” TMP coach Cody Marintzer said. “We definitely are going to get better throughout the season, but very proud of these young men and women and what they did.”

Weber and Ethan Lang, who finished 17th in the junior/senior race, are also playing soccer this fall.

“They’re really good, hard working young men,” Marintzer said. “I know they add a lot to our soccer program and they’re going to add a lot to our cross country program.”

Marintzer said there’s benefits to opening the season with a home meet.

“I love starting with this meet,” he said. “Once we get our meet out of the way, I can see the kids running and I can coach them better. When it’s our meet, it’s just a little bit crazier, a little more hectic. You’re dealing with a lot of things so sometimes you don’t get to see your runners on the course as much as you’d like to.

“It’s nice to have it first thing and then be able to be with the runners throughout the season.”

Larned’s Braydon Lothman won the freshmen/sophomore race in 18:18.