2014 Cross Country
Fisher wins HCAC men's title at Earlham
November 1, 2014
RICHMOND, Ind. - On the hilly, challenging course of Earlham College in cold and windy conditions, Bluffton University's Jack Fisher (Norwalk/St. Paul) left little doubt that he came to race in the HCAC Cross Country Championship. Making himself a member of the lead pack from the gun, Fisher cruised comfortably through the first mile and a half before making a decisive move up the signture hill of the course, gapping the field by several seconds. Through the remainder of the race, Fisher gradually put more distance between himself and his competitors to become Bluffton's first-ever Heartland Conference champion of either gender in a time of 25:51. What makes Fisher's performance even more impressive is his relative novice status as a harrier, this being only his third season of cross country.
In the race of his career, junior Zach Bradley (Sheffield/Brookside) marshalled all of the physical and mental aspects of racing to earn All-HCAC Honorable Mention status with his 17th place finish in 27:04. Freshman Chris Tatom (Greenfield, Ind./Greenfield Central) exceeded even his own expectations, also running in the 27-minute range, placing 36th, and continuing to impress the coaches with his development. Despite a slight physical impairment exacerbated by the hilly course, freshman Kris Lyons (Vickery/Margaretta) ran a quality race while sophomores Shawn Campo (Galion) and Patrick Brean (Ashland) rounded out the team with solids races of their own.
Sophomore Anna Hairston (Mansfield/Ontario) led the women's team with an All-HCAC Honorable Mention 20th place finish. Not far behind, freshman Alissa Hauke (Hillsboro), coming off disrupted training due to an injury, continued her fine freshman season with a 40th place finish. She was followed by the ever-improving freshman Elaina Alpeter (Galloway/Hilliard Bradley). Rounding out the scoring five with quality performances on the demanding course were sophomore Raven Wilson (Coshocton/Riverview) and freshman Katie Baumlein (Findlay/Liberty-Benton).
"Throughout the season, Jack has been putting together the pieces for today's performance," said Head Coach Karen Brandt, "but he had yet to execute all parts of the race on the same day. It's a lot of self-imposed pressure to toe the line knowing that your goal is to win when something has gone wrong in all of your races leading up to the championship. To his immense credit, Jack made it look easy today. Our team places do not do credit to the preparation that went into today nor to the effort and determination expended on the course. This is a group of men and women who have suffered their share of slings and arrows this season, but in the process they have grown as individuals and as a team. They are united and focused in their cause to be the springboard that vaults Bluffton cross county to places in the conference no one expects them to be. They are inspired by their teammate's win and look to the future with confidence."
The Beavers will resume training as they prepare for the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship hosted by Wilmington College on Saturday, Nov. 15. The racing will take place on the King's Island Golf Resort.