BY GREG FLINT
MONTEZUMA, Ind. —
The host Riverton Parke Panthers and the Seeger Patriots captured the Wabash River Conference cross-country championship with the boys’ title going to the former with 38 points and the girls’ to the latter with 19.
The race for the boys’ title was tight as Attica was a close second with 47 and Seeger was not far behind with 57.
Riverton Parke senior Matt Haltom pulled away from second place Conner Million of Seeger, a freshman, in the final 25 meters to win by three seconds.
“I’d hoped he’d be able to win – he’d led most of the way,” said Seeger coach Miles Stucky of Million, “But he couldn’t quite do it. However, I really pleased with his run.”
The top ten finishers are declared to be all-WRC and joining Million from Seeger was Jacob Warrick who took seventh.
Attica also had a pair of runners earn the honor as Kenny Little and Tanner Henry took fourth and tenth, respectively, for the Ramblers.
Sarah Mattern, Attica head coach, said she was pleased with having two all-conference runners and also in getting two more in the top 20, especially with her usual third runner out with an injury incurred the night before the meet.
Fountain Central coach Clint Burney said he was happy to see Clayton Corey make all-WRC with a ninth-place finish and noted that Weston Phillips ran well even though he did not quite take home the honor.
Seeger dominated the girls’ side of the meet as the Patriots narrowly missed their goal of getting all seven of their runners in the top 10 as they took first, fourth through seventh, ninth and 14th.
Stuckey said it was still great to see six of his team earn all-conference honors and noted that the seventh runner had been battling back problems all season.
“We didn’t run this course with our full varsity the last time they had a meet here,” said Stuckey. “We didn’t know how fast the course really was so we just went out and ran our race. We found out it was a slower course than some we’ve run.”
One of the meet officials explained the slower times by saying that the course was fairly hilly and that the trails were often sandy, which slows down the runners.
Slow course or not, Burney was pleased with the showing of his girls’ team, saying he was “extremely happy” with how his team ran and was looking forward to the sectional next week.
For North Vermillion coach Lori Turchi, this season has been about improving and she said she saw that from both her boys’ and girls’ teams.
“We’re much improved over the start of the season and we’ve been trying to peak for this meet and sectional,” she said. “Because this course and the sectional at BC are fairly flat, I cut out our running hills a while back to get ready.”
Mattern had a similar comment about her girls’ team, noting how they had improved across the season and that some of her runners had set personal bests in the meet.
Covington only had a girls’ team for the second year in a row. Head coach Andrea Ragsdale said her team had improved each meet all season but that it was hard to see.
“We face Seeger and FC in almost every meet we run,” she explained, “so it’s hard for us to see just how much progress we’re making when we run against such good teams all the time.”
With three freshmen and four girls who had never run cross-country before, Ragsdale said one thing would really help.
“We need some boys to go out and run with us,” she explained. “It would give us a boys’ team but also the boys would help push the girls to get better.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer for the Commercial-News. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org