Girls Regional XC Champs; Boys Semi-State Qualifiers

Posted on October 19, 2016 in Boy's Cross Country, Fall Sports, Girl's Cross Country

Junior Margo Hornocker and Freshman Mollie Gamble (background) lead girls to Regional championship

Junior Margo Hornocker and Freshman Mollie Gamble (background) lead girls to Regional championship

BY SCOTT HUNT – shunt@chronicle-tribune.com
The Oak Hill girls’ cross country team bounced back from a disappointing sectional runner-up finish to Huntington North in style Saturday morning.
Just a week after falling 47-49 to the Vikings in their attempt to win the program’s first sectional since 1993, the Golden Eagles put together a strong race and slipped past Huntington North 77-81 and win their third regional championship in the last five years.
Joining the Golden Eagles when the starting gun goes off at 1 p.m. Saturday in the New Haven Semistate will be a trio of young runners from Mississinewa, who earned a trip by placing in the top 10 individuals not on an advancing team.
It was somewhat business as usual for Oak Hill, as Margo Hornocker led the win with a second place finish. Unlike last week, when freshman teammate Mollie Gamble nipped her by .10 at the finish line, Norwell freshman Sydney Lambert simply ran away from the field.
Lambert finished in 18:22 and well ahead of the pack led by Hornocker, who finished in 18:47. Huntington North’s Chloe Scheiber (18:51) was third.
Gamble (18:56.7) finished fifth, .5 seconds behind Emily McManus of Fort Wayne Luers.
For Oak Hill girls’ coach Paige Brunner, it was a much more satisfying result.
“The biggest thing with the girls this week was, we talked about having fight and we talked about having fun,” said Brunner, who won his fifth girls’ regional title in the 13 years he’s been leading the Oak Hill program. “I felt like last week I had some girls that put way too much pressure on themselves, and we just didn’t have fun with it.”
We’ve had too good of a year to let that get in the way,” he continued. “We worked hard this week and we talked about going and getting something that we felt belonged to us last week. They fought today, times weren’t necessarily great, but I told them if you fight then we’ll win and I feel like they did that.”
Jenessa Hasty (20:28) finished 17th for Oak Hill, while Savannah Hart (21:01) was 26th and Camille Taylor (21:30) was 33rd.
Though Mississinewa (170) finished seventh to miss qualifying as a team by two spots, sophomore Amanda Baldwin and freshmen Aurora Fisher and Carli Fones all earned a trip to New Haven.
Baldwin, who will make also qualified last season, ran 20:05 and finished 12th. Fisher (20:10) followed closely behind in 15th and Fones (20:53) was 22nd.
“I think they’re a little bit shocked, but I think they feel like they’re going to have confidence the next three years that they can do even better than what they’re doing,” said Mississinewa coach Ean Van Winkle of his freshman. “We’re all surprised. I knew I had a good group of freshman but I didn’t realize they would compete at this high of level at this point. It’s been great.”
“They’ve wanted to really stay with Amanda and that’s really what kept Carli and Aurora going is trying to compete with Amanda everyday,” Van Winkle continued. “It’s been great for Amanda because making her move kind of close to where she was last year. It’s pushed her too, because she doesn’t want to get beat by the freshmen.”
There was no drama to speak of in the boys’ regional race. Huntington North ran away with the team title, much like it did last week in the sectional.
The Vikings put all five scoring runners in the top 13 to score 31 points and soundly defeat second place Bellmont (68). New Haven (123) finished third while Oak Hill (148) and Eastbrook (156) finished fourth and fifth to earn spots in the semistate.
Mississinewa sophomore Brennan Butche (16:10) finished runner-up to two-time defending regional champion, Bailey McIntire (15:34), a senior for South Adams.
Butche ran with McIntire through the first third of the race before falling off the pace to finish second.
“I know Bailey is a great runner, and my goal was I was going to stay with him for as long as possible and drop my time,” Butche said. “I stayed with him for about a mile. I know his first two miles he’s under 10 minutes. After the first mile he just took off.”
Eastbrook junior Conner White and senior Channing Cook led the Panthers charge to the semistate. White (16:33) finished sixth while Cook (16:54) was 14th.
Panthers’ coach Bryan Jackson was bit surprised last week when his team finished runner-up to Huntington North in the sectional, and he was also a bit surprised that Eastbrook slipped into the final qualifying spot in at the regional.
“I think we were a little bit disappointed with times but looking at everybody’s times, I don’t think anybody ran real fast (Saturday),” Jackson said. “Last week was a bit of a surprise to place second, guys ran really, really well. That gave us a little more hope for this week. After seeing times we weren’t totally sure we were going to get in.
“We’re obviously very happy to be moving on. It’s a good accomplishment for this team.”
Oak Hill’s boys employed the pack strategy that has worked effectively through the latter part of the season. Freshman Tahj Johnson (17:15) finished 22nd to lead the Golden Eagles. Senior Silas Vermilya (17:23) was 26th, freshmen Dillon Mitchell (17:31) and Raffi Frye (17:34) were 33rd and 35th, respectively. Sophomore Colin Harts (17:58) was 48th.
“With what we’ve had going on, we lose (top runner) JC (Herring) and have four freshmen out there, a couple of them didn’t have a good day last week and I thought they bounced back,” Brunner said of his boys. “They did the same thing as the girls. You get to this point in the tournament and there is not a whole lot separating people. You’ve got to have some grit and I thought both of our teams showed that.”
Grant County’s final representative in the semistate will be Marion junior Jalen Springer, who ran in the top 10 for more than two-thirds of the race before finishing 17th in 17:04.
“I’m proud that I raced to the 4K and disappointed I didn’t give it all the last K,” Springer said. “I was racing to the 3K, now I’m racing to the 4K and next week it will be the 5K.”
Springer qualified for the semistate for the second straight year and said this week’s workouts will be more about speed than distance.
“We’re going to cut back miles and do some more speed stuff,” Springer said. “That’s what the last K will be, it will come down to what I have left and my speed. I know I’ll have to get in position before the woods on the next course. I’ll be ready.”

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