2016 Cross Country
Bluffton women 2nd at HCAC
October 29, 2016
HANOVER, Ind. - The Beaver harriers had a memorable day Saturday, Oct. 29, at the HCAC Cross Country Championship. On an unusually hot day for late October, and on a demanding Hanover College course, the runners rose to the occasion with Bluffton's best-ever 2nd place team finish for the women, a quality 4th place team finish for the men and an all-time high eight athletes in the awards.
The women’s squad was led across the finish line by senior Anna Hairston (Mansfield/Ontario), 5th place in the field of 103 athletes. Her finish is the best-ever by a Bluffton woman in the conference championship. Sophomore Devony Miller (Findlay/Liberty-Benton) came home next in 11th place. For placing within the top 12 athletes in the field, both women earned All-HCAC honors. Closely following Miller across the line was freshman Alexis Cash (Gaines, MI/Lake Fenton) in 13th and sophomore Tami Groff (Versailles) in 17th with fellow sophomore Alissa Hauke (Hillsboro) on her heels in 18th. Each of these women earned HCAC Honorable Mention for placing in the top 20 athletes in the field. These five varsity women compiled a score of 64 points, well clear of 3rd place Hanover at 99 points. Rounding out the varsity seven and narrowly missing honorable mention were freshmen Arie Cox (Ontario) in 21st place and Haylee Zigan (Newark/Licking Valley) completing the varsity in 32nd place.
The men’s team, also with a youth movement, ran to a credible 4th place team finish only 16 points behind 3rd place Hanover. Senior Jack Fisher (Norwalk/St. Paul) led his Beavers home in 6th place among the 112 finishers. Junior Kris Lyons (Vickery/Margaretta), running another huge race for himself and the team, kicked for the line to finish in 12th place. Fisher and Lyons earned All-HCAC honors for their efforts. Freshman Connor Gulick (St. Louisville/Utica) put it all on the course today to run an outstanding 18th place, earning honorable mention for his big contribution to the men’s team. Rounding out the scoring five were sophomore Jacob Hill (Dayton/Wayne) in 23rd who was followed closely by freshman Brandon Long (Bucyrus/Colonel Crawford) in 26th. Filling out the remaining varsity positions were freshman Dakota Frost (Edgerton/Hicksville) and sophomore Jonah Eckert (Terre Haute, Ind./West Vigo).
“Today’s performances represent a major step forward in the development of this cross country and track and field program,” said Head Coach Karen Brandt. “What our athletes did is a testament to their consistent hard training, going all the way back to early summer, as well as the tenacity with which they have learned to race. They put it all out there today in unseasonably hot conditions; in the pressure of knowing our entire season is judged by what we do on this one day. It has been extremely rewarding to both Coach Jim and me, and dare I say joyful, to have worked with this team. In two weeks our varsity teams have one more opportunity to shine and I am confident they will do so.”
The Beavers will close out their 2016 campaign in two weeks when they race in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. The women’s 6,000 meter race will begin at 11 a.m. followed by the men’s 8,000 meter race at noon. Both races will be contested on the grounds of the West Ottawa Golf Course, 6045 136th Avenue, Holland, Mich.