2003 Cross Country
intrasquad 2-mile trial
Team Bluffton Wins in a Cloud of Controversy
Bluffton, OH - As the teams did their normal warm-up routines and sprint-outs on the soccer game field there was a mix of emotions shown on the faces of the athletes. Some kids were smiling and carrying on with laughter and others were focused and serious about the task at hand. That task was the Bluffton vs. Beaver Two-mile Intrasquad Trial. The trial is one of the most important "lower scale" competitions that the team competes in because its not just about individual bragging right, but team bragging rights as well.
Race conditions were better than expected as the rain showers held off and overcast skies prevailed. The temperature was dropping slowly from the high to low 50's and the breeze was moderate and steady out of the Northwest.
The structure of the meet was the same as the year before with the teams being split evenly into two separate teams (Team Beaver and Team Bluffton). The women and men would race together and the scores would be separated after the finish. New to this year was the addition of an overall score for each of the newly created teams, meaning Team Bluffton's men and women's score would be tallied against Team Beaver's.
"Coach Stanley has no concept of time what-so-ever!" cried Jordon Bruner as he awaited the start of the race. Just before the race the crowd had reached a fevered pitch and it became hard for the racers to hear the starting commands from starter Rachael Szydlowski. However, once the gun was fired and the race got underway the cheering and hoopla did not matter. "As soon as that gun went off I knew those kids would be choking on my dust," said Coach Derek Stanley who decided to participate for the second straight year.
Coach Stanley did just that as he took the lead immediately. By the mile mark the lead had dwindled to three competitors as they crossed in 5:10. That is when Andy Schiefer fell off the pace leaving Coach and Bruner to battle it out. Even more interesting was the fact that both were on separate teams. With about 700m left in the race Coach Stanley (Bluffton) took the lead attempting to gap Bruner (Beaver) but Bruner was having none of that. He took the lead back with about 500m to go and used a strong kick to hold off a charging Coach Stanley to win the race in a record time of 10:23. Stanley accepted his second place finish in disgust running a 10:24. Next in was a tandem effort of Team Bluffton with Schiefer (3rd, 10:38) and Dan Rosebrock (4th, 10:47). Coming in for Team Beaver in 5th were Dave Espinoza in 10:52 and Johnny Ichrist in 6th running a 10:53. Patrick Cooley (Bluffton) was 7th in 11:19 and Chris Wojo. (Bluffton) was 8th in 11:20. Ninth and 10th place came from Team Beaver with Kitt Lashley and Justin Crites running 11:42 and 11:53, respectively. Finishing up the race in 11th place with a courageous effort and to a standing ovation was Coach Steve Borga who crossed the line in 12:05. When asked what disease or injury that he had overcome to receive such an ovation from the crowd during his finish Borga said, "I'm just out of shape, that's all, nothing else is wrong with me, I'm just slow." Team Bluffton ran away with the title winning with a score of 24-31.
The women's race was just as bad of a blowout, except this time it was Team Beaver kicking the tail. Lauren Bailey and Carrie Hudecek took control for Team Beaver flexing their running muscles to finish 1-2 in 12:50 and 12:52, respectively. A pair of Bluffton runners followed as Lauren Borga and Jen Creamer took 3rd and 4th with Borga running 13:10 and Creamer 13:15. The knife in Team Bluffton's back was probably when Steph Welch (Bluffton) was out kicked by returning alumni member Ben Noll (Beaver) in the last 75 meters of the race. The kick moved Noll into 5th with a 13:39 and Welch into 6th with a 13:43. Lindsay Bryant (Bluffton) finished her effort in 7th with a 14:27. The tandem of Meggan Hartzog and Laurie Sanford, running for Team Beaver, finished 8th and 9th in 14:43 and 14:47, respectively. Alicia Stanko, despite receiving a course map 24 hours before the race and being unable to follow the marks on the course did not finish because she had been spending too much time with Roy Kaplan and his horrible sense of direction rubbed off on her. Team Beaver walked away with the race in a score of 25-30.
Bruner remains the only athlete who is still undefeated by Coach Stanley. When asked why he was unable to match Bruner, Schiefer said, "it was my foot, ..I mean my shin, ..no wait, my foot." Patrick Cooley said, "I just wanted to wear training shoe so I could feel like Chris White during the race." When Justin Crites was asked why he finished where he did he said, "I wanted to move up, I did, but every time I went to pass (Kitt) Lashley the odor from his uniform made me sick to me stomach." Carrie Hudecek commented, "we kicked butt today because of our sweet pre-race cheer, that totally intimidated them!" After out kicking the team's star middle distance runner, Ben Noll stated, "Being a teacher, I felt I needed to come in here and take these kids to school. Welch just ended up being teacher's pet today!"
There is always a period of 30 minutes of protest time after the "unofficial" results are released. Protests are to be submitted to the race director, in this case Coach Nate Smith. No protests were submitted in the 30 minute window, therefore the "unofficial" results became "official." Twelve minutes after the deadline a protest was submitted by the alumni runners stating that Team Bluffton's women should not have a score because they did not finish a full team. However, since the protest was not submitted within the prescribed time limit, no such restitution was put into action.
"This is complete crap," stated Steve Borga, "no one said anything about a stinkin' protest period." "Yeah, right on Borga!" followed Ben Noll. "There might be merit to what was being protested, but that is why we have the protest period. There were none, so the results are official. That's just life I guess," stated Coach Stanley.
Unable to be reached for comment, it was rumored that Chris Wojo. and Patrick Cooley were seen walking out of the stadium, arms around each other and crying, again.