VVC boys 14.jpg

Racers sprint at the start of the Vermilion Valley Conference Cross Country race for the boys Tuesday evening at Kickapoo State Park. Chrisman/Georgetown-Ridge Farm’s Matt Avenatti won the individual title while the Cardinals won the team title.

After a rough run at Kickapoo State Park on Oct. 4, Chrisman/Georgetown-Ridge Farm’s Matt Avenatti wanted to redeem himself at the Vermilion Valley Conference Cross-Country meet.

Avenatti pulled away from Bismarck-Henning’s Nick Marx after a neck and neck first mile and won his second straight individual title with a time of 17 minutes, 10 seconds. Marx would finish second.

“I ran stupid last time here at the Thunder Run and it was a humbling learning experience,” said Avenatti. “I ran much smarter today. To win for the second year in a row feels good.

“We train a lot on hills and I like the hills here at Kickapoo. It shows you are a real cross country runner when you can run hills. I am happy with how I did but I am most happy about how well our team did.”

The Cardinals won its second straight team championship with a score of 28 with David Wilming (3rd), Joey McNulty (5th), and Byron Brinkley(8th) also finishing in the top ten to earn all conference honors.

It was a special race for Wilming.

“We had a family reunion and my grandmother and aunt from Oregon were here to see me run for the first time,” said Wilming. “I like running in cooler weather because you don’t feel like your going to overheat.

“Today was the fastest time I’ve had here and I’m very happy with the race.”

Unlike last year when he missed the race due to health issues, longtime Cardinals coach Tom Kulbartz was able to see his team’s success this year.

“Consistency is what we are after as a team,” Kulbartz said. “Matt did what he had to do to win the race and improved his time from last year (17:13).

“This was quite a turnaround from the Thunder Run for us as we not only packed up well but moved the pack closer to the front. I think the guys had some extra motivation today being the conference meet and were looking to make a statement.”

It was a personal best finish and time for Marx.

“Nick ran an awesome race, really awesome,” said Bismarck-Henning coach Phil Benjamin. “He held onto second and was able to get his time into the 17-minute range (17:55). As a team, we are starting to reach goals and hit our stride at the right time heading into the regional.”

Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac finished second with a team score of 42 and also had four runners in the top ten earning all conference honors with Brandon Divan (4th), Tyler Grey (6th), Leighton Elliot (9th), and Erik Tharp (10th).

“Brandon has been training hard and ran great today,” said OAP coach Tim Lee. “He is gaining more confidence each race. It was a nice race as well for Erik, who has been our No. 5 five guy.

“Unlike the past where we knew we had a consistent number one runner in Justin Jones, we never know now who is going to lead for us. It was about what we expected and I was pleased with the results.”

Also earning all conference honors by finishing in the top ten was Hoopeston Area’s Kraig Vanwieringen who came in seventh.

The next race at Kickapoo will be the Vermilion County meet on Tuesday.

Recommended for you