Boys Cross Country Wins Grant 4

Posted on September 19, 2018 in Boy's Cross Country, Fall Sports

BY SCOTT HUNT – shunt@chronicle-tribune.com
UPLAND — Brennan Butche celebrated homecoming week at Mississinewa Monday by dressing up as fabled movie character Forrest Gump, full beard and all. During the boys’ Grant Four cross country championship Tuesday at Taylor University’s Farm Course, Butche displayed some of the legendary running prowess of the fictional movie character and ran away from the rest of the field.

What’s new?

Butche has owned the Taylor course during his stellar high school cross country career and Tuesday was no different. The senior reset his own high school course record, shaving nine seconds off the previous mark he set last year with a season-best 15:38. The win made him just the third runner and second boy in recent memory to win the county championship all four years in high school.

Butche joined Eastbrook’s Josh Neideck (2010-13) and Oak Hill’s Kristen Reiff (2002-05) to join a select crowd.

The winning time Butche posted was 1 minute, 20 seconds ahead of second place finisher Raffi Fry (16:59) from Oak Hill.

But the Golden Eagles also put together a dominant performance led by Fry, claiming eight of the top 10 spots to easily win the team title with a scant 21 points. Eastbrook (58) narrowly edged Mississinewa (59) for runner-up honors while Madison-Grant (119) was fourth.

It was Oak Hill’s third straight Grant Four team title and the 19th time in the last 20 years the Golden Eagles have taken the trophy back to Converse.

Butche had help from his mom and girlfriend to put together his Forrest Gump attire. During Tuesday’s race he just had to summon up the inner fire that will allow him to compete for a state title in just over a month. And because of the competition and the course, the Grant Four has always held a special place for Butche.

“It’s an honor running against these great guys out here. It was a really exciting race,” Butche said. “This course is all about how mentally strong you are.”

And he needed to test his mental strength and a new technique to finish strong enough to break his course record again.

“With about one (kilometer) to go I just was gassed,” Butche said. “In my mind I kept telling myself ‘I’m not tired, I’m not tired.’ My mind’s telling me I’m tired but I’m not tired.

“When I got down to the end I tried this new thing where I skip, and then I lean forward and it helps me get on my toes to develop a kick,” he added. “Today was my first time doing it in a meet. It seemed like it worked out a lot. I’m very happy overall.”

From top to bottom of his nearly all underclass team, Oak Hill coach Paige Brunner said it was the Golden Eagles’ best performance of the season.

Following the Butche and the junior Fry across the finish line were juniors Dillon Mitchell (17:05) in third, junior Tahj Johnson (17:34) in fourth and junior Macallister Cheek (17:44) in fifth.

Eastbrook figured to challenge the Golden Eagles for the county title, but junior Ben Neideck (17:49) was sixth and the only Panther to finish in the top 11. Nathan Brainer (18:31) was 12th, Jack Hammon was 16th.

“All-around is the best way to put it. We’ve had meets this year where two or three guys ran pretty well,” Brunner said. “We’ve just been trying to get them to come together and I think there’s that competitiveness when you come to Grant Four that you know everybody. Some of these big meets we go to, we go to a Brown County, they don’t know who those schools are.”

Fry has assertively taken over as the lead runner for the Golden Eagles with Mitchell in hot pursuit of his teammate at No. 2. Johnson had been competing for that top position but had to withdraw from the Marion Invitational and both Fry and Mitchell have stepped up their performance in the month of September.

“(With) Raffi and Dillon in that one and two spots their confidence has taken off,” Brunner said. “Now you’ve got Tahj back and running pretty confident in that three or four spot, it actually made us better. We’ve still got to tighten up the gap a little bit. We had five or six guys together in that middle of the race and then they started spreading out. We’ve got to bring that together for some of the meets ahead.”

Ole Miss had Jacob Ehmer and Raven Fisher finish 14th and 15th, respectively, followed by Zak Huffman (22nd), Jon Alsup (23rd) and Colin Coffey (24th).

Eastbrook also scored with Zane Callison (18th) and Logan Kennedy (19th).

Sophomore Cole Hasty (20:32) led Madison-Grant finishing 27th, while Kaden Howell (32nd), Sinjin Turner (36th), Chad Harbert (38th) and Wyatt Rudy (39th) scored for the Argylls.

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