Boys Cross Country Back On Top In Grant 4

Posted on September 21, 2016 in Boy's Cross Country, Fall Sports

Photo by Scott Hunt/shunt@chronicle-tribune.comPACK: Oak Hill’s (from left) Tahj Johnson, JC Herring, Silas Vermilya and Raffi Fry run together just past the two-mile marker during the Grant Four Championship on Tuesday at Taylor University. The Golden Eagles used the strategy to win the team title over defending champion Eastbook.

Photo by Scott Hunt/shunt@chronicle-tribune.comPACK: Oak Hill’s (from left) Tahj Johnson, JC Herring, Silas Vermilya and Raffi Fry run together just past the two-mile marker during the Grant Four Championship on Tuesday at Taylor University. The Golden Eagles used the strategy to win the team title over defending champion Eastbook.

BY SCOTT HUNT – shunt@chronicle-tribune.com
UPLAND — The strength of the wolf is in its pack, and while there is no comparison between cross country runners and wolves, the strength of Oak Hill’s pack allowed it to wrest away the Grant Four boys’ cross country championship from Eastbrook.
A year after the Panthers ended the Golden Eagles’ 16-year run of titles, Oak Hill runners placed fourth through seventh and ninth to total 31 points and slip by Eastbrook, who scored 37, and regain the Grant Four trophy.
“I don’t necessarily know if we’ve adapted it as a strategy yet, but that’s our strength right now,” Oak Hill coach Paige Brunner said of having his team remain packed together for as long as possible on the course. “That’s our strength over the teams that we were racing against (Tuesday). Eastbrook beat us last year in the county and the sectional kind of using that.”
“We know when we get to conference and sectional, Eastbrook’s top two guys are going to put some bodies on us,” Brunner continued. “We’re going to have to close that gap. But I’m proud of the pack today.”
Oak Hill’s top five runners ran essentially together for nearly two of the 5-kilometer course at Taylor University.
Senior JC Herring was the first to arrive at the finish line at 17:47 in fourth with freshman Tahj Johnson (17:48.0) right by his side in fifth. Senior Silas Vermilya (17:52.6) and sophomore Julian Garcia (17:57.9) were sixth and seventh, while freshman Raffi Fry (18:09.2) was ninth.
“(Tuesday) was a test run for conference, it was a practice run,” Herring said. “Just run in the pack and see how we do and get experience.”
A funny thing happened on the way to the finish line for Mississinewa sophomore Brennan Butche. He was well on his way to defending his Grant Four title when the timing chip he wore on his shoe laces fell off.
Fearing disqualification for not finishing with the chip, he retreated 10 yards or so to pick up and finished the race with it in his hand.
Despite the slight mishap, Butche (16:39) covered Eastbrook junior Connor White (16:55.3) by more than 16 seconds.
“I always thought if it comes off, and I don’t have it when I finish I get disqualified,” said Butche, who set the course record winning last year’s race. “I was hoping to improve on that, but unfortunately since my chip came off, I wasn’t able to do it.”
Eastbrook senior Channing Cook (17:05.1) finished third, while junior Ethan Keller (18:03.9) was eighth, freshmen Zane Callison (18:22.5) was 11th and Ben Neideck (18:27.8) scored 13th.
Panther coach Bryan Jackson saw good performances from his team, but was also disappointed Eastbrook couldn’t hold on to the trophy.
“We had some guys that came out and competed and did really well,” Jackson said. “It’s hard to lose. I think they were a little more prepared, Oak Hill was, they handled their business like they were supposed to. Not completely happy with how everything went from three to five for us.”
Jackson said White’s focus coming into the race was to try and hang with Butche as long as possible through the middle of the race. White was able to keep Butche in sight for most of that time, but was unable to close the gap.
White posted his second fastest time of the season.
“I thought it was alright for the weather and the course conditions,” White said. “I’m happy with our team, how everyone came together and ran. Overall, I thought it was a decent day.”

Leave a Comment