2016 Cross Country
Fisher takes 4th at Hanover
September 10, 2016
HANOVER, Ind. - In the wee hours of the morning, the Bluffton harriers headed south to Hanover College for the Madison Kiwanis Invitational which was to serve as a preview for the HCAC conference championship at the end of October. While the men traversed their 8,000 meter (5 mile) course with minimal difficulties, misdirection in the latter stages of the women’s 6,000 meter (3.75 mile) race led to confusion and a jumble of the finishing order. Regardless, both teams performed well in the first meeting with conference rivals Hanover and Manchester.
Led by senior Jack Fisher (Norwalk/St. Paul) in 4th and junior Kris Lyons (Vickery/Margaretta) in 7th, the men’s team finished a relatively close 3rd to Hanover and Manchester who were 1st and 2nd, respectively, in the six-team field. With freshmen and sophomores in varsity positions 3 through 7, including freshman Brandon Long (Bucyrus/Colonel Crawford) 15th, sophomore Jonah Eckert (Terre Haute, Ind./West Vigo) 16th, freshman Connor Gulick (St. Louisville, Ohio/Utica) 19th, freshman Dakota Frost (Edgerton/Hicksville) 21st and sophomore Jacob Hill (Dayton/Wayne) 28th, there is much development to be expected throughout the season. The men’s team has its sights set on a substantial improvement over their 6th place finish in last year’s conference meet.
The women’s team finished one place better than the men for a 2nd place finish in the field of six, losing only to perennial conference power Manchester. While the team score suggests an insurmountable gap between the Beavers and the Spartans, the course misdirection and youth of the women indicates there is much potential to close the gap. Until the race was sent off course in two different places, sophomore Jennie Matteson (Guysville/Alexander) was running a strong number one for the team and in the top five of the field overall. Likewise, other women did not cross the finish line relative to where they had been racing with approximately three-quarters of a mile remaining when confusion reigned. Despite that, performances were strong from freshman Haylee Zigan (Newark/Licking Valley) in 8th, freshman Alexis Cash (Gaines, MI/Lake Fenton) in 9th, Matteson in 10th, senior Anna Hairston (Mansfield/Ontario) in 12th, sophomore Devony Miller (Findlay/Liberty-Benton) in 13th, freshman Arie Cox (Ontario) in 14th and junior Alissa Hauke (Hillsboro) in 15th who comprised today’s varsity seven.
When awards were presented to the top 20 in each gender, the Beaver women garnered 10 with the men bringing six back to Bluffton.
“We generally don’t leave campus at 4:45 a.m.”, said Head Coach Karen Brandt, “and facing a four-hour bus ride wasn’t anyone’s idea of fun this morning. I didn’t know how they would race or what attitude they would take out of the bus. What a great group of athletes this is. They brought their maturity and focus. Despite being rushed in the men’s pre-race prep, despite the heat and humidity, despite the mess at the end of the women’s race, our runners came to compete. One of our men lost his mother unexpectedly last week after his father died five years ago. Our hearts were heavy for Patrick but every Beaver had a mission of honor today as they ran with his parents’ initials on their arms. They made me very proud to be their coach.”
Cross country competes next Saturday, Sept. 17 at Otterbein University. The men’s 8k race starts at 10:45 a.m. followed by the women’s 6k race at 11:30 a.m.