Boys Cross Country Regains CIC Crown

Posted on October 6, 2016 in Boy's Cross Country, Fall Sports

By CHUCK LANDIS clandis@chronicle-tribune.com
UPLAND — While it wasn’t like a scene from the Walking Dead television series, Saturday afternoon’s Central Indiana Conference boys’ cross country meet was notable for who was missing and injured.
Mississinewa sophomore Brennan Butche, nursing a groin injury, won the 5-kilometer race around the Taylor University Cross Country Farm in a course record 15 minutes, 58.8 seconds. And Oak Hill, missing top runner J.C. Herring, won the team championship for the eighth time in 11 years, edging out defending champion Eastbrook.
Running on an overcast 60-degree day, perfect conditions for cross country, Butche dominated the race and finished more than one minute ahead of second-place finisher Channing Cook of Eastbrook, who ran 17:03.8. Connor White, the Panthers’ usual No. 1 runner, attempted to keep up with Butche early but faded to a third-place finish in 17:14.6.
Oak Hill’s depth compensated for the loss of Herring, who has a walking cast on his left foot, and the Eagles had five of the top 10 finishers. Freshman Tahj Johnson led the way in fourth (17:21.0), senior Silas Vermilya was fifth (17:26.2) and another freshman, Raffi Fry, was seventh (17:38).
“Last year, I felt what hurt us was our lack of depth, and I’m sure Eastbrook felt the same way today,” Oak Hill coach Paige Brunner said. “Eastbrook and us were both a man down, but even though we were without J.C. we still liked our chances.”
Eastbrook was missing Zane Callison, one of its top five runners, and still had four runners place in the top 10 and earn all-conference medals. Yet, with the Eagles forming a fairly tight pack – just 34 seconds separated Johnson and their fifth runner – they finished with 35 points while the Panthers totaled 48 points.
“Zane went down and we don’t have the depth that (Oak Hill) has,” Eastbrook coach Bryan Jackson said. “But we had a couple (personal bests) and I was happy with how we competed right to the end and showed some fight.”
Led by Butche, Mississinewa finished third with 73 points with four runners among the top 20, and Madison-Grant was fifth with 121. Mason Miller was the Argylls’ top finisher in 19th place (18:56.2).
Butche sat out the previous Saturday’s elite New Haven Invitational on the Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne course and an early week meet due to the injury. The injury happened when he retraced his steps to pick up a micro chip at the Grant Four Invitational.
“I was pretty impressed with my time today,” Butche said. “It was great weather and no wind – a perfect day to run. The groin felt great and it didn’t hurt one bit in the race.”
Indians coach Ean Van Winkle said he had considered holding Butche out of the CIC meet. Butche, though, participated in the Indiana Bicentennial torch relay Thursday with no ill effects and was instructed to be careful.
“My coach said just go out and if it hurts slow down,” Butche said. “But if was okay I had the go-ahead to see what I could do today.”
When Butche made the first mile marker in 4:50 and was under 11 minutes after two miles, he began thinking about personal milestones including the Mississinewa school record set in 1988 by Mark Cisneros. At the finish line Butche was told he ran 15:55, which would have matched the 28-year-old record, but the official time was three seconds slower.
“This course has some hills and sharp turns, which can have a big effect on times,” Butche said. “Some of the hills are diagonal and it’s kind of like running sideways.”
Jackson said he instructed White to match Butche’s pace for as long as possible, but on this day it was too fast.
“It was a little outside his comfort zone,” Jackson said. “But this was the day to try it before we get into the sectional and regional meets.”
Rounding out Oak Hill’s scoring was Dillon Mitchell in ninth (17:44) and Julian Garcia in 10th (17:55.9). Sixth runner Macallister Cheek was 12th (18:10.9) and finished ahead of Eastbrook’s No. 5 and Mississinewa’s No. 2 runners.
Besides Cook and White, the Panthers had Ethan Keller in sixth (17:26.4) and Ben Neideck in eighth (17:44.4) with both earning all-conference medals.
Jon Tucker was Mississinewa’s second finisher in 13th (18:16.6) while Jakob Ehmer was 17th (18:45.7) and Sam Robinson was 18th (18:51.6).

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