CULVER — With the approach of the postseason at the flat, fast Culver Academies course approaching, Plymouth cross country coach Jami Holm switched up her team’s training regimen last week.
Holm changed the Pilgrims’ workouts from longer distances to shorter, speed-building runs. That added speed paid dividends at Tuesday’s sectional as Plymouth’s boys team edged out Tippecanoe Valley for the last ticket out to regionals this weekend.
The Pilgrims finished fifth for the last team ticket out to regional with 128 points, while Triton’s boys made the cut out in fourth with a score of 110, Rochester was third with 90, and host CMA finished runner-up with 80 points behind a dominant championship score of 19 from Warsaw.
Plymouth’s girls easily earned a regional berth, meanwhile, in third place with a score of 71 behind CGA’s 60, while Triton finished on the bubble with a score of 170 behind Rochester’s 82, and Warsaw’s girls clinched their school a dual championship with a score of 30.
“We did some stuff last week, and I think if we have one more good practice out of them I think that we can do well on Saturday,” said Holm.
“We did a lot of speed work that was a lot shorter and quicker than what we’ve done. We did a lot of K repeats earlier in the season, and then once our regular season was over we switched to quarters and hundreds. A lot of those. And we’ll be doing a lot more of those. I think that kind of sharpened the pencil for us this week. They did very good.”
Plymouth was paced by Kennedy Schneiders’ 13th place finish in 17:54, while Mason Reed finished strong after separating from Schneiders midway through the race to place 14th just three seconds behind his teammate. Levi Schuler was 24th in 18:25 as Plymouth’s top three all finished in or near the top 20, while Eli Wendt finished 35th with a time of 19:30, and Zach Ballard was 42nd in 20:08 for Plymouth’s boys, which made the cut out ahead of Tippy Valley’s score of 168 in the third straight fifth-place finish for the Pilgrims at sectional.
“I knew that if we were going to get in we were going to squeak. I’ll take it,” Holm said.
“Thirteenth and 14th place overall, that’s wonderful. Mason’s just getting better, which is phenomenal. Then we have Levi who really wasn’t that far out from the top 20.”
While Plymouth claimed the last team spot out to this Saturday’s CMA Regional, Triton’s boys kept their own string of regional berths intact with plenty of room to spare Tuesday.
Bryce Wanemacher and Derek Johnston both broke into the top 20 in 15th and 19th, respectively, with times of 18:09 and 18:15, Landon Kaufman and Cordell Sherow were close behind in 22nd and 23rd with respective times of 18:22 and 18:24, and Bailey Watkins was 31st in 18:53.
Pack running has been the key to a banner season by the Trojans, and they stayed close together once more Tuesday. According to head coach Wes Rettinger, he just keeps giving his boys more to do, and they just keep asking for more.
“I send them out on a six-mile run or an eight-mile run, they stay together. They work hard. All season long they have worked hard. They’ve asked me for more,” said the Triton boss.
“I’ve given them more to do, but at a small school like Triton I have to be careful what I ask them to do or I’m not going to have anybody on my team. My top five guys have just bought in and have just worked their butts off all season, and I’m just so happy and I want them to get to semistate. I know that there’s a chance. It’s a long shot probably, but we didn’t’ try to peak today. We’re trying to peak on Saturday so we can possibly squeak in on Saturday.”
Consistent finishes were crucial for the Trojans Tuesday, and they were equally important for CMA as the Eagles beat out Rochester by 10 points for team runner-up honors on their home course.
Landrum Neer and Alejandro Tumoine were ninth and 10th in 17:38 and 17:45, while Zach Dunlap and Justin Matei placed 16th and 17th, respectively, finishing within less than a second of one another in 18:09, and Jose Figueroa stepped up from his usual sixth spot in the lineup to finish 28th in 18:45 and give the Eagles their fifth score.
“I thought that the Rochester boys had looked pretty good during the season; I thought that Rochester might be second. Our boys ran reasonably well. I was very pleased with our fifth runner. He stepped it up today; he had about a 25-second PR, so that was nice to see,” said CMA head coach Michael Chastaine.
“Landrum Neer and Alejandro Tumoine, they ran together and they ran fairly solid. And our next two ran together most of the way. It wasn’t great races for anybody except Jose, but it was solid races.”
Rounding out the team standings in the boys race, Culver Community placed 10th with a 259 score. Brennin Betts finished just shy of an individual regional berth in 40th in 19:51, Justin Brown was 48th in 20:28, Stephen Lehman finished 54th in 21:18, John Brown was 57th in 21:28, and Mark Lehman finished 62nd in 21:58.
While Plymouth’s boys made the cut out in the last available regional spot, Triton’s girls gutted out injuries and absences to accomplish a similar feat Tuesday.
Allie Kann continued to struggle with plantar’s fasciitis but still gave the Lady Trojans their top finish in 36th with a time of 23:52, Taylor Hatfield stepped up in the lineup with a 24:11 finish for 38th place as Lexi Miller remained sidelined with hip issues, and Courtney Burns, Kayliegh Craig and Aimee Gladieux finished in order in 39th through 41st with less than a second separating the trio as Mikayla Musilli sat out the tournament opener following an emergency appendectomy Saturday.
With a short-handed squad at Tuesday’s race, Rettinger couldn’t have been happier to see his girls get out.
“I knew it was going to be very close with Manchester, and they did it. I was just trying to do the mental math at the end. I really didn’t think it was going to be possible just because we had two girls way out in front of our girls,” said Rettinger. “But we had six girls before their third, I think. The girls ran real well today. They had a nice pack. They ran like our boys have this year — they ran real close together, which is awesome. I’m ecstatic.”
While Hatfield had a big day for the Lady Trojans, Plymouth’s girls got a boost from Abby Patrick at sectional.
Patrick put in the Lady Pilgrims’ top finish with a strong 20:13 time for fifth place overall, while Libby Read was also a top 10 finisher in eight place with a 20:39 time, Miranda Hacha ran a 21:53 race for 19th, and Shelby Harrell clocked 22:02 as Plymouth put four girls in the top 20 Tuesday. Brooke Wagner turned in a 22:13 time, meanwhile, to finish just back of Harrell in 23rd place as freshman Rachel Crawford sat out the CGA race with hip pain.
Patrick has struggled through persistent knee injuries each of the past two seasons, but the junior finally seems to have gotten control of those problems and is looking strong at the start of the postseason.
“She set a goal way at the beginning of the season in June, and she’s worked her way toward those goals. She’s very competitive,” said Holm of her top girls runner. “We finally have gotten her injuries straightened out for the season. She’s had a lot of knee injuries the last couple seasons, and we’ve done a lot of strength training — a lot of glute work, a lot of hamstring strength that was causing all that knee stuff. So we’ve gotten all that figured out, and she’s had zero injuries all summer.”
Holm was also pleased with Hacha’s continued improvement Tuesday.
“One of the outstanding seniors that’s just done an incredible job is Miranda Hacha,” Holm said. “She just sets a wonderful precedent as far as pace goes, and she just gets faster. She’s fun to watch; every time she races she has a good race.”
Like their boys team counterparts, Culver Girls Academy finished second behind a dominant showing from Warsaw Tuesday as the Tigers earned dual championships a second straight year since joining the Culver Academies Sectional field in 2012.
CGA was paced by Hannah Buggeln in sixth place with a 20:27 time, while teammate Sydney Wolff dropped back midway through the race to finish 10th in 20:42, Annie Shea was 13th in 21:02, and Mary Terhune and Stephanie Ma placed 17th and 18th in respective times of 21:14 and 21:16.
“We were pleased that they finished second. The times were not particularly fast. We have looked better so we’re hoping that Saturday they can look a little bit better so they can inch up to the Warsaw group. Warsaw on both sides, they were dominant. I thought we would be a little close, but we weren’t,” said Chastaine.
“I was pleased with how they went out the first part, but they just didn’t move up the way I thought they would. I was pretty pleased with Stephanie Ma, she was pretty solid. Annie Shea was our third runner; Annie did a nice job with continuing to move up, which I love to see. Mary Terhune, who was number four for us, has run better and can run better so we’re looking for her to move up a little higher. And our top two looked OK.”
Meanwhile, CGA’s neighbor down the road Culver Community was unable to field a full team but saw two of three runners advance Tuesday in the first year the IHSAA has awarded spots to the top 10 individuals from non-advancing teams.
Victoria Shank was 27th in 22:22 and Tatum Schultz was 37th in 23:58. Justine Dexter placed 45th for Culver in a time of 24:58 to finish out her sophomore season.
• CULVER ACADEMIES CROSS COUNTRY SECTIONAL
Team results: 1. Warsaw 19, 2. Culver Military Academy 80, 3. Rochester 90, 4. Triton 110, 5. Plymouth 128, 6. Tippecanoe Valley 168, 7. Caston 189, 8. Manchester 190, 9. North Miami 206, 10. Culver Community 259.
Top 20 individuals: 1. Ellis Coon (W) 16:28.1, 2. Matthew Fahs-Brown (M) 16:44.4, 3. Owen Glogovsky (W) 16:48.2, 4. Tyler Houvener (W) 17:08.4, 5. Nick Bergen (W) 17:21.3, 6. Jonathan Beres (W) 17:34.4, 7. Seth Cousins (Ca) 17:37.0, 8. Wesley Meyer ® 17:37.5, 9. Landrum Neer (CMA) 17:38.9, 10. Alejandro Tumoine (CMA) 17:45.3, 11. Brandon Maull (TV) 17:49.2, 12. Tyler Byerline ® 17:50.4, 13. Kennedy Schneiders ℗ 17:54.2, 14. Mason Reed ℗ 17:57.3, 15. Bryce Wanemacher (T) 18:09.0, 16. Zach Dunlap (CMA) 18:09.4, 17. Justin Matei (CMA) 8:09.7, 18. Ryan Goon (W) 18:14.0, 19. Derek Johnston (T) 18:15.6, 20. Austin Kimble ® 18:18.8.
2. CMA (80): 9. Landrum Neer 17:38, 10. Alejandro Tumoine 17:45, 16. Zach Dunlap 18:09, 17. Justin Matei 18:09, 28. Jose Figueroa 18:45.
4. TRITON (110): 15. Bryce Wanemacher 18:09, 19. Derek Johnston 18:15, 22. Landon Kaufman 18:22, 23. Cordell Sherow 18:24, 31. Bailey Watkins 18:53.
5. PLYMOUTH (128): 13. Kennedy Schneiders 17:54, 14. Mason Reed 17:57, 24. Levi Schuler 18:25, 35. Eli Wendt 19:30, 42. Zach Ballard 20:08.
10. CULVER COMMUNITY (259): 40. Brennin Betts 19:51, 48. Justin Brown 20:28, 54. Stephen Lehman 21:18, 57. John Brown 21:28, 62. Mark Lehman 21:58.
Team results: 1. Warsaw 30, 2. Culver Academies 60, 3. Plymouth 71, 4. Rochester 82, 5. Triton 170, 6. Manchester 173, 7. North Miami 175, 8. Tippecanoe Valley 210.
Top 20 individuals: 1. Anna Bearss ® 18:56.5, 2. Allison Miller (W) 19:32.6, 3. Brooke Rhodes (W) 19:55.5, 4. Hannah Dawson (W) 20:04.0, 5. Abby Patrick ℗ 20:13.8, 6. Hannah Buggeln (CGA) 20:27.9, 7. Adrianna Dague (Ca) 20:31.5, 8. Libby Read ℗ 20:39.9, 9. Sarah Burch ® 20:41.6, 10. Sydney Wolff (CGA) 20:42.1, 11. Emma Hayward (W) 20:44.6, 12. Madeline Hooks (W) 20:56.2, 13. Annie Shea (CGA) 21:02.5, 14. Carlee Lefebvre (NM) 21:03.0, 15. Aletheia Burritt (W) 21:07.7, 16. Claire Kehler (W) 21:09.9, 17. Mary Terhune (CGA) 21:14.0, 18. Stephanie Ma (CGA) 21:26.5, 19. Miranda Hacha ℗ 21:53.7, 20. Shelby Harrell ℗ 22:02.7.
2. CGA (60): 6. Hannah Buggeln 20:27, 10. Sydney Wolff 20:42, 13. Annie Shea 21:02, 17. Mary Terhune 21:14, 18. Stephanie Ma 21:26.
3. PLYMOUTH (71): 5. Abby Patrick 20:13, 8. Libby Read 20:39, 19. Miranda Hacha 21:53, 20. Shelby Harrell 22:02, 23. Brooke Wagner 22:13.
5. TRITON (170): 36. Alexandra Kann 23:52, 38. Taylor Hatfield 24:11, 39. Courtney Burns 24:17, 40. Kayleigh Craig 24:22, 41. Aimee Gladieux 24:46.
CULVER COMMUNITY (NS): 27. Victoria Shank 22:22, 37. Tatum Schultz 23:58, 45. Justine Dexter 24:58.