Boys 1st, Girls 2nd At New Haven Cross Country Invite

Posted on September 23, 2018 in Boy's Cross Country, Fall Sports, Girl's Cross Country

By CHUCK LANDIS – clandis@chronicle-tribune.com
Led by Brennen Butche, Grant County cross country teams and individuals made Saturday’s New Haven Invitational their own personal sandbox.

Butche dominiated the elite boys’ five-kilometer race and the Mississinewa senior won with his season-best time. Eastbrook’s Ben Neideck was the boys’ A individual winner and Oak Hill won the team championship for the third straight year and fifth overall.

The Golden Eagles just missed out on a sweep when the girls, without top runner Mollie Gamble, finished second in the A race by seven points to Fort Wayne Luers. Gamble stepped up and ran in the elite girls’ race where she finished in fourth place.

“It was a pretty good day for Grant County,” Oak Hill boys’ and girls’ coach Paige Brunner said.

Butche turned in a blistering 15 minutes, 30.8 seconds on the same Purdue University-Fort Wayne Plex course where the northeast semistate meet is staged and finished 12.4 seconds ahead of Westview’s Spencer Carpenter. It was his second-fastest 5K and surpassed only by the 15:26 he ran at last year’s Marion Invitational on the Indiana Wesleyan University course.

“I was pretty excited about it,” Butche said. “I felt good the whole race. The conditions were great – cool and no wind – and you couldn’t ask for better weather.

“My first mile was in 4:45 and after that I knew I would have a good time,” he added. “It will be a confidence booster after running high 15s and 16s, and now I can come back here for semistate feeling pretty confident.”

Neideck won the boys’ A race in 16:31.4 and built up a 12.8-second margin over second-place Gezaghane Biddle of Eastside at the finish. Oak Hill would have the next two finishers with Raffi Fry third (16:46.4) and Dillon Mitchell fourth (16:54.8), and the Eagles would have eight runners place in the top 30 and earn medals.

The Eagles’ Macallister Cheek broke into the top 10 with a ninth-place finish (17:16.2), while Tahj Johnson was 13th (17:26.7) and Sol O’Blenis was 20th (17:43.1) to round out the team scoring. Also collecting medals were Danny Nally in 22nd (17:48.7), Julian Garcia in 26th (17:54.9) and Landon Ashley in 27th (17:55.0).

“The boys ran really well and the five titles is the most by any boys’ team at the New Haven meet,” Brunner said.

Eastbrook also had Zane Callison in 15th (17:33.8) and Nathan Brainer in 28th (17:56.2) pick up medals, while Jack Hammond in 33rd (18:06.2) and Logan Kennedy in 44th (18:17.6) count in the team scoring.

Gamble ran a season-best 18:39 in the girls’ elite race and was 27.2 seconds off the pace of the race winner, Fort Wayne Dwenger’s Erin Strzelecki (18:12.9). The junior was just five seconds out of second place.

The Eagles girls still had enough in reserve to give Luers a battle for the A team championship, losing out 72-65. Kinzie Robey set the pace with a third-place finish (19:46.7) and Selah Jackson was sixth (20:38.0), giving the Eagles two top 10 finishers.

Also scoring for the Eagles were Grace Geller in 13th (21:01.4) and Kate Hornocker in 18th (21:13.4) and both received medals and Lauren Marsh in 32nd (21:50.4). Besides Gamble, the Eagles are missing Jenessa Hasty, last year’s No. 3 runner who won’t race this season due to injury.

“With Mollie moving up and without Jenessa, the girls were spread out pretty thin,” Brunner said. “I thought they ran a pretty good race as well.”

In the girls’ AA race, Mississinewa’s Aurora Fisher was sixth overall (19:57.3) and led the Indians to an 11th place team finish. Carli Fones with a 28th (21:15.6) and Raegan Tippey with a 34th (21:23.1) also medaled for the Indians.

Marion boys’ and girls’ teams trailed the field in the AA races, finishing in 16th and 19th places, respectively. Mississinewa’s boys without Butche finished just ahead of Marion in 15th position.

Joel Barnes was 49th (17:58.5) to lead the Marion boys and Carynna Aguilar was 110th (24:58.6) and paced the girls. Raven Fisher’s 66th-place finish (18:29.0) topped the Indians boys.

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