BY GREG FLINT
VEEDERSBURG, Ind. —
The Seeger Patriots used a third place finish from Cara Fowler along with four more runners in the top nine to capture the girls’ side of the Fountain Central Cross Country Grand Prix.
This was the second time that the Seeger girls won the crown, having also taken it in 1998, the inaugural year of the event. They and Fountain Central are the only schools from the Wabash River Conference to win a Grand Prix title as the Mustang boys won in 2004 and their girls won in 2004 and 2005.
Seeger coach Miles Stucky said the title had been a goal, but also qualified it by saying, “Without West Lafayette here, it kind of opened up the team title.”
He said he had been worried about Perry Meridian and Western of Kokomo, but those two schools scored 55 and 74 points respectively against the 30 for the Patriots.
“We pretty much ran as a pack,” Stucky explained, “which is exactly how we practice and is something we push to have happen. It really gives us a lift when we’re all together like that.”
The senior laden girls squad reached their goal of winning the meet, but his younger boys team came up a bit short of their goal.
“I’m not sure where we finished,” said Stucky before the results were available, “but we wanted to finish sixth as a team. I don’t think we made it, but we did have some good runs by young guys including Conner (Million) who took 14th after finishing 40th last year as a freshman.”
The Patriot boys ended up ninth, just eight points in front of a short-handed Attica in a battle for the top WRC finisher.
“We were missing our top three girls and our number two boy,” said Attica coach Sarah Mattern. “We have eight new runners on varsity this season, so this meet was a new experience for them.”
Mattern said she expected the scores for her team to be better next week when the squad gets near full strength, but said her new runners still had two things to learn.
“They don’t yet get what I mean when I say ‘run with heart’,” she explained. “They think they’re running hard but they need to do more. They also don’t understand pain and how to deal with it. When they can do that, we’ll be much better.”
Right behind Attica on the boys’ side was Fountain Central in 11th of the 19 teams who competed.
Mustang head coach Clint Burney said the best thing about the meet was that he had five boys this year, meaning that he could field a scoring team.
“We added two freshmen boys who have helped pick up our team,” said Burney. “We had some of the kids start working in June so we’re in better shape on both the boys and girlsside than we were last year.”
Burney took over as coach only a week before the season started last year and said it was much easier to prepare his teams this season, “because I had time to work with all of them.”
His girls were the second best from the WRC as they finished eighth. Burney, like Stucky, saw his team run closer together during the race.
“Morgan (Grubb) was out ahead, but the rest were closer to each other,” he said. “Across the board, they have all cut about two minutes off their times from the end of last season, so I’m really looking forward to how much better we can do.”
The North Vermillion girls finished 12th while Covington did not field the five runners required to obtain a team score.
On the boys side, the Falcons took 15th while the Trojans had only one competitor in the meet.
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at email@example.com