Girls Cross Country Regional Champs; Boys Advance To Semi-State

Posted on October 14, 2018 in Boy's Cross Country, Fall Sports, Girl's Cross Country

For the past four years, Mississinewa senior Brennan Butche has made the cross country course at Indiana Wesleyan his own personal playground. During Saturday’s Marion Regional, he left no question about it either.

While weather conditions were much improved over last week’s sectional, the soft course conditions didn’t set up favorably for hot times, but the tournament has been Butche’s time of the year, and Saturday he was under a second from re-setting his all-time Grant County record in winning his second straight regional championship.

The race for the girls title was essentially between two individuals, juniors Mollie Gamble from Oak Hill and Sydney Lambert from Norwell, and the Golden Eagles and Knights were the two teams to beat as well.

After running side-by-side for most of the first four kilometers, Lambert pulled away for seven second win over Gamble in the individual battle, but the Eagles, who ended up with three runners in the top 10, won the war and their third-straight regional crown along with it.

Lambert, who was the 2016 Marion Regional champion, finished in 18:47, while Gamble crossed in 18:54, but a second half of the race rally by Oak Hill, a PR and seventh place run by sophomore Selah Jackson (19:52), a ninth for sophomore Kinzie Robey (20:01) and a 23rd and 24th place finish for sophomore Kate Hornocker (20.58.6) and freshman Grace Geller (20:58.7) left Oak Hill with 57 points and just ahead of Norwell (63).

“Whatever our girls decided to do the second half of the race was the difference, because the first half we were not good,” said Oak Hill coach Paige Brunner. “Norwell was out really hard and had me worried. Kinzie was way back having some issues, the second half of the race all seven of them were on the move and fighting all the way down the stretch.

“It’s hard to think of a group I’ve been prouder of,” Brunner added, noting the loss of Jenessa Hasty to injury early in the season along with the graduation losses of Margo Hornocker and Savannah Hart. “To be sitting here saying you won three straight regionals, four of the last five years, especially in a one class sport, that’s not going to happen in any sport for awhile in our area. And to do it as much as we’ve done it, I’m beyond proud of these girls. It’s a very different spot than I thought we’d be about a month ago. Great day for our girls and great day for our program.”

Butche and Wabash removed any drama as to who would win the boys race from the start.

Butche finished the 5K in a season best 15:27.8, beating second place Dereck Vogel of Wabash by more than 43 seconds to claim the win. Butche said a PR wasn’t part of his thought process before the race, but two miles in, that changed.

“I just told myself to take one mile at a time,” Butche said. “I heard 4;45 at the first mile so I knew it was going to be a good day. Second mile, 9:50, and I knew I had a shot at it. I turned the corner (to the finishing stretch) and I see the clock and I took off.

“When I crossed the line I saw (15:)27 and it was kind of upsetting to be so close to your PR,” he added. “But then again, you can’t be upset with it. It was a great race and thats the fastest I’ve ran this year.”

Butche won’t be the only boy from Grant County making the trip to Saturday’s New Haven Semistate either. Eastbrook junior Ben Neideck (16:33) finished sixth to qualify as an individual.


“As far as the race goes, I was happy with it. It was only a second or two of my PR for the season,” Neideck said. “Went into with a little different race plan of staying back from the pack I usually put myself in, staying relaxed for the first mile so I could hopefully feel a little stronger for the second and third mile, which are the hardest. When it came down to the last K, I heard everybody’s names from all the other teams being shouted out so I knew there was big pack behind me. Once I got to the K, I knew I was comfortable with that distance to the finish and I was just trying to run for my life at that point.”

Zack Reed of Wabash edged past Neideck in the final few meters to claim fifth, and helped Apaches rout the field. All five of Wabash’s scoring runners finished in the top 16 for a score of 37. Bellmont finished second with 69, while Huntington North (96), Oak Hill (101) and New Haven (116) earned the final three team advancing spots. Eastbrook (192) and Mississinewa (201) ran seventh and eighth.

Juniors Dillon Mitchell (16:47) and Raffi Fry (16:49) led the Oak Hill boys in 11th and 13th place, respectively, while Macallister Cheek (28th, scored 24th), Sol O’Blenis (33rd, scored 27th) and Tahj Johnson (35th, scored 28th) finished the Eagles’ scoring.

“From the eye test, I thought we might have been second or third, our front guys dropped back a little bit but they fought hard,” Brunner said of his boys. “We knew if we ran well today we were confident, we didn’t feel like there were five teams that could beat us but we had to do our job….I told the boys before the race, as much as I love the girls and will be glad to take them to semistate, I would like to (make the trip) with not just the girls.”

It’s the fifth time over the past 16 seasons both Oak Hill’s boys and girls teams have qualified for semistate in the same season.

Mississinewa juniors Aurora Fishers and Carli Fones also became multiple-year semistate qualifiers.

Fisher (20:23) finished 14th and will be making her third consecutive journey to New Haven, while Fones (20:45) crossed in 20:45 and will be making her second semistate in three years, after opting to sit out last season. Junior Raegan Tippey (21:37) was 32nd and missed qualifying by two finishing spots.

“The competition was tough. I was watching the race and I told all three girls you have to go,” said Ole Miss coach Ean Van Winkle. “Carli was running great. Aurora has been having hip issues the last two weeks. if she was healthy it would be awesome to see what she had, She’s still going to be fighting next week.

“Carli is on a real nice (time) drop,” he added. “She’s pacing herself at the beginning of a race and really getting smart. She’s really racing the way she should race. I cant fault any effort. Raegan was just off her PR. When you get to the regional, competition is crazy and everybody in there is supposed to be there.”

Marion’s senior duo of Tyler Morgan (17:27) and Joel Barnes (17:50) finished 34th and 48th, respectively. Morgan was just six seconds from being a semistate qualifier.

The New Haven Semistate will be contested on the Purdue-Fort Wayne’s Plex Course near Memorial Coliseum beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

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