Cross Country Teams Capture CIC Titles

Posted on October 1, 2017 in Boy's Cross Country, Fall Sports, Girl's Cross Country

BY SCOTT HUNT
shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

It was business as usual in the Central Indiana Conference cross country championships on the Indiana Wesleyan University cross country course Saturday.
Senior Oak Hill standout Margo Hornocker bested the 18-minute mark for the second time this season and the second time in Grant County history, running 17:56.9, just three-tenths of a second off her county record Sept. 9 at the Brown County Invitational. Hornocker breezed to the race win crossing the finish line for her third straight CIC championship 42 seconds ahead of teammate Mollie Gamble, the runner-up and  nearly two minutes in front of third place finisher Jenessa Hasty.
“We just decided, really just right before the race,  (coach Paige Brunner) asked if we wanted to push it or run it together so we decided to run it hard to see how we could do on our own without anyone else pushing us,” Hornocker
said. “I actually did not think it was going to be as fast as it was. I’m pretty happy with it because I definitely felt like with other people I can go faster.”
Hornocker steadily moved away from the rest of the field right from the start and focused on chasing the Gator vehicle in front of her during the middle portion of the race to maintain the pace she wanted to run.
“I got out good and my first mile was about what it normally is, then I really tried on the second mile, back by the soccer fields when there was no one there I tried to just focus on the Gator and push and make sure I was keeping the same pace,” she said.
“The last K I was pushing once I realized I could break 18 if I had a good last K.”
Oak Hill’s five scoring runners finished in the top six, with Savannah Hart finishing fifth and Kinzie Robey sixth to lead Oak Hill to 17 points and its fifth straight CIC title.
Frankton (69) was second, Elwood (77) finished third followed by Eastbrook (108) and Mississinewa (110).
Even though Oak Hill didn’t use the points scored by freshman Selah Jackson, she earned a first team AllCIC
spot by finishing seventh.
The Golden Eagles also had Kate Hornocker (11th), Ireland Dodson (13th) and Maggi Austin (17th) garner honorable mention for finishing in the top 20.
“It’s a rough week for us. We’re still doing a good amount of training and you throw homecoming in the mix, it’s just a lot of distraction,” Brunner said. “It helped getting Selah back.
It helped Savannah and Kinzie then obviously with Margo and Mollie, to start racing them with everybody else that helps, too.
“Our gap was better. You throw Huntington (North) in the mix the next two weeks (in the state tournament), we’re going to have a little more of a match race and we’ll see how competitive we are,” he added. “I though today was better than it was last weekend, but that’s kind of easy to say with the temperature change.”
Mississinewa’s Carli Fones earned an All-CIC spot by finishing eighth, while Eastbrook’s Laynie Craw (19th) and Eleana Manning (20th) were conference honorable mention.  
Much like Hornocker in the girls’ race, Mississinewa junior Brennan Butche dominated the boys’ race from start to finish. Butche sprinted quickly to the front of the field then glided away to finish in 15:55.8 and win his second consecutive CIC championship, more than 29 seconds ahead of Eastbrook’s Connor White (16:24.7) and 40 seconds faster than Oak Hill’s Tahj Johnson (16:35.8). 
“It was good. I just jumped out front and ran my hardest,” Butche said. “It was a pretty good day and I’m pleased with my time. 
“I love coming out here and running in the conference meet and racing with these guys,” he added. “I’m very impressed with them. I like watching them improve as well as my own team.”
Also like the girls’ race, Oak Hill had its top five runners finish in the top 12 to easily win the team championship, the 10th in the 12 years since the Golden Eagles have been a part of the CIC.
“I thought the boys were off a little bit today and I kind of felt that coming in,” Brunner said. “We’re still just very young and as great as it is to have a lot of really good sophomores, they still do some sophomorish stuff at times. We had some kids I didn’t feel like had taken care of themselves this week.
“I’m not taking anything away from the other teams, I thought Eastbrook ran really well and Mississinewa ran really well, but Julian Garcia was a huge piece for us,” he continued. “At the beginning of the year he wasn’t even on our varsity. I still think we would have been able to win the meet without him but he was a huge reason we were able to win easy.”
Oak Hill totaled 35 points to win, followed by Eastbrook (62), Mississinewa (72), Frankton (80) and Madison-Grant (131).
Garcia was fifth for Oak Hill, while Danny Nally (7th), Raffi Fry (8th) and Macallister Cheek (12th) finished in scoring positions for the Golden Eagles. Ben Neideck ended fourth for Eastbrook and Zane Callison was sixth, both earning All-CIC spots. Nathan Brainer finished 17th for honorable mention and Thane Syswerda was 33rd.
Jonathan Tucker (9th) and Jacob Ehmer (10th) joined Butche on the All-CIC team while Zak Huffman finished 24th and Raven Fisher was 30th for the Indians.
Madison-Grant’s Mason Miller was All-CIC honorable mention for finishing 20th, while Cole Hasty (27th), Steven Frye (28th), Zach Lakes (29th) and Joey Marshall (30th) rounded out scoring for the Argylls.
Over the past two weeks, White and Johnson have become quite familiar with one another by racing sideby-side for much of the New Haven Classic’s A race and in the Grant Four. In each of those instances, Johnson used his sprinter’s speed to kick away from White and win at New Haven and finish second in the Grant Four.
It was a familiar site for most of Saturday’s race as the duo settled in behind well behind Butche in the race for second. But White changed his strategy and it paid dividends as he kicked away from Johnson in the last 400 meters.
“I was definitely focused on moving the entire time by always having a little edge,” White said, “and definitely, starting my kick earlier because I know how fast that he can be. I was scared, that’s the way to put it, but I was ready to race.” Brunner added, “I told Tahj when you two are that close, it’s splitting hairs. I didn’t expect him to outsprint Connor every time. At some point Connor, a senior here on this course, is going to come back and get him. Hopefully, they will both keep it up together. I think they’ve both got a chance to go to state.”

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