Boys & Girls Cross Country Capture CIC Titles

Posted on September 30, 2018 in Boy's Cross Country, Fall Sports, Girl's Cross Country

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This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative. Freshman Grace Geller runs in the 2018 CIC Championships

BY SCOTT HUNT – shunt@chronicle-tribune.com
Certain trends in the Central Indiana Conference cross country championships continued on Saturday morning at Indiana Wesleyan University, and most don’t appear to be coming to an end anytime soon.

The lone exception is Brennan Butche’s dominance of the boys’ race. The Mississinewa senior will move on to bigger and brighter things starting in next week’s Marion Sectional on the same IWU course he’s mostly owned for the past three seasons. When he graduates from Ole Miss in the spring, Butche will carry with him to the next level the last three individual CIC championships, amongst his other accomplishments. And has been custom, Butche simply ran away from the field to finish the 5K distance in 15:36, more than a minute ahead of runner-up Ben Neideck (16:45), a junior from Eastbrook.

Like the past two years, Butche’s nearest competition was the Gator and the clock. He had his sights set on a faster race but was still pleased to end his CIC career with three titles.

“I was happy but a little discouraged at the same time. Throughout the race I kept hearing course record, course record and I was like ‘I’m on track for it, let’s go get this thing,’” Butche said. “I was a second slower at the mile, and a few seconds slower at the two mile than I was last week (in his win in the elite race at New Haven). I’m happy to win it, I love racing with these guys, but I was a little disappointed with my time today.”

Neideck has also had a good couple of weeks for the Panthers, bouncing back from a tough Grant Four race to win in the small school division at New Haven and finish second on Saturday. Neideck was locked in battle with Oak Hill’s Raffi Fry and Dillon Mitchell, who both beat him in the Grant Four, for most of the distance but pulled away in the final kilometer to finish runner-up.

“Time was a little slower than I would have liked, but when you’re running side-by-side with somebody with another person right on your tail the entire time, it’s a super competitive race and it’s a bunch of fun,” Neideck said. “I love racing the Oak Hill guys, they’re great competition for me, and I’m just really happy that we were able to race each other and push each other as much as we could.”

In the team competition, the CIC championship might as well be renamed the Oak Hill Invitational, as both the girls and boys placed all five scoring runners in the top 10 to continue multiple-year streaks on top.

Though Oak Hill’s boys didn’t claim either of the two top places, juniors Mitchell (16:50.0), Fry (16:50.1), Tahj Johnson (17:24) and Macallister Cheek (17:26) finished third through sixth, respectively, and freshman Sol O’Blenis (17:44) finished 10th to give Oak Hill 28 points and a comfortable margin of victory over Eastbrook (53), Mississinewa (82) and Frankton (85). Blackford (142), Madison-Grant (191), Alexandria (210) and Elwood (212) rounded out the boys competition.

It was the Oak Hill boys third-consecutive win, and the 10th time they’ve claimed the trophy since joining the CIC in 2006.

Led by junior Mollie Gamble, who won her first-ever CIC crown with a time of 19:01, Oak Hill swept four of the top five positions for a 19-point finish and an easy win over Frankton (87), Eastbrook (92) and Mississinewa (111) in the girls race. Elwood (92), led by senior Kaylee Lane’s third place finish, was fifth, while Alexandria and Madison-Grant tied for sixth with 140. The Tigers were awarded the position by their sixth runner’s finish.

Gamble’s win gives Oak Hill seven-straight individual winners as she followed Shallen Lenhart (2013-15) and Margo Hornocker (2014-17) as a champion. It was the Golden Eagles sixth-straight team title and eighth in the last 11 years.

Sophomore Kinzie Robey (19:42) finished as runner-up, sophomore Selah Jackson (20:23) crossed fourth, freshman Grace Geller (21:07) made a spirited sprint to the finish line to end fifth and sophomore Kate Hornocker (21:18) was seventh. Oak Hill also had Ireland Dodson (13th), Lauren Marsh (14th), Claire Gamble (18th) and Audrey Leak (19th) earn honorable mention All-CIC. The top 10 in each race received first-team all-conference selections.

Like Butche, Gamble’s time was slower than she desired, but she was also flying around the course solo from very early in the race.

“I’m not extremely happy with my race, but I did the best I could because I was by myself, so it was mental,” Gamble said. “It’s pretty hard (racing alone), it’s more a mind game than anything. I felt like I was still going the same, but I ended up slowing down around halfway and didn’t realize it.”

Oak Hill coach Paige Brunner agreed with Gamble, but he was still pleased with her effort along with the effort he got from top-to-bottom in the Golden Eagles’ lineup and believes they’re ready to race for sectional and regional titles in the next two weeks.

“(Gamble) came out here and ran 19 minutes by herself. She looked strong. She looked smooth,” Brunner said. “I thought she had some moments where she was disengaged or relaxed a little bit, but that comes with the territory when you’re out there by yourself. We’re starting to get to the point of the year that’s made for her, and she’s ready to go.

“We kind of knew what the result was going to be today, we wanted to come our here and run fast and be competitive, but were also trying to get them to not take things for granted,” Brunner added. “… I wanted them to enjoy this today, and it’s probably the last race they’re going to have without a good amount of pressure put on them. We haven’t had that a whole lot this year. From top to bottom, I was pleased with them.”

Mississinewa also earned a pair of All-CIC positions in the girls race, and could very well have finished higher as a team if junior Aurora Fisher, the Indians top runner would have been in the lineup. However, she was scratched from the race after experiencing back pain while warming up with hopes she’ll be ready to try and earn her third straight trip to semistate when the tourney starts on Saturday.

Still, juniors Carli Fones (21:26) and Raegan Tippey (21:27) finished ninth and 10th, respectively. The Indians also score with Lynnzey Young (35th), Ashlyn Morrical (39th) and Kara Dawson (42nd).

Senior Eleana Manning (22:59) and sophomore Laynie Craw (23:02) finished 16th and 17th to lead Eastbrook. The Panthers also counted Rachel Manning (25th), Jade Stuber (26th) and Bekah Hammond (29th) toward their third place finish.

Madison-Grant’s girls were led by Zoey Barnett (24:34) in 27th and Lacey Mayfield in 33rd.

Eastbrook’s runner-up finish in the boys race included an All-CIC performance from Zane Callison (17:35) in ninth. Nathan Brainer (17:51) finished 11th, Jack Hammond (17:58) was 14th and Logan Kennedy (18:12) ended 18th.

“We’re moving in the right direction. We try to pride ourselves in running our best at the end so just focusing on getting better each week,” said Panther coach Ethan Evans about his boys. “ We have two weeks here so we’ll fine tune our races. Hopefully weather cooperates, but we’re running well and we’re moving forward right at the right time. Oak Hill is tough right now, so if we can keep closing the gap on them that’s our goal.”

Mississinewa’s boys got an All-CIC honorable mention performance from senior Jacob Ehmer (18:07), who finished 15th. Other Indians scoring were Raven Fisher (23rd), Tony Parish (26th) and Jon Alsup (30th).

Cole Hasty (19:37) led Madison-Grant in 38th place, and he was followed by Sinjin Turner (48th), Kaden Howell (49th), Chad Harbert (63rd) and Wyatt Rudy (64th).

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