Jasper sweeps NH X-C invite
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The Jasper High School teams dominated in both the boys’ and girls’ races Thursday afternoon at the North Harrison Invitational cross-country meet. Besides dominating team-wise, the Wildcats also took the top spots individually in both races.
The runners were dealing with some muddy conditions from 2-1/2 inches of rain that had fallen the night before. Much of that water had run off or been absorbed in the ground, but there were still some areas where runners had to work to stay on their feet.
Jasper junior Andi VanMeter took control of the race and never let go. With two miles down, VanMeter had a commanding lead over the field. She went on to win in a time of 19 minutes, 31.4 seconds.
The Lady Wildcats also took the second and third spots. Kelsea George was second in 20:33.5, and Ally Wigand third in 20:46.9. Perry Central’s Jaelynn Etienne was fourth in 21:04.2, and Bedford’s Autumn Spence rounded out the top five in 21:21.2.
“Today felt pretty good,” said VanMeter. “I took off pretty hard. I think I stayed pretty consistent. I didn’t die off too much. I slowed down a little bit the second mile, but then I picked it back up again. I looked at my watch and I was like, ‘I really need to pick it up to get a really good time.’ So, I really started pushing it the last half of the race.”
VanMeter said she had to dodge some of bigger mud puddles on the back side of the course.
“When we first got out here and was walking, I first noticed it was kind of wet,” she said. “I didn’t know it had rained at all. We never went to the back side of the course, so I didn’t really know what to expect. When I got back there, there were pretty big puddles and I had to run around all the puddles. … I think I maneuvered it pretty well.”
Corydon Central’s Emily Armstrong cracked the top 10, finishing seventh in a time of 21 minutes, 4.2 seconds. Armstrong said the wet course wasn’t so bad for her.
“I felt the competition was really stronger this year, and it helped me get a better time,” she said. “Surprisingly, it wasn’t that bad. In places, there were big puddles and some girls went around them and some went through. I thought it was interesting to see how one could recover after stepping in those.”
Armstrong said she feels she is up to strength where she should be during this part of the season.
“I feel like I’m stronger than last year because we have a whole new team,” she said. “A lot of freshmen came out. I miss my old teammates, but I feel like as a team we have a really good attitude, and that’s what’s setting us apart.”
North Harrison’s Blaine Whittaker finished 20th in 23:13.3. Being her home course, Whittaker said she wasn’t concerned about the wet conditions.
“This course I know by heart so it’s never too muddy for me, but there was a couple of mud puddles that you had to run around,” she said. “It probably dropped you by a second or two but not much.”
“It was tough,” Whittaker said. “It was a lot more schools than it was last Tuesday. Our first race there were only four teams there, and here there’s 25. It was just a tougher race with a lot of really good girls, but I felt like I need competition for sure because it makes me better.”
Kylee Lewellen finished as No. 1 for Floyd Central in a time of 22:49.0 for 14th place. Crawford County’s Melonie Kopp was 31st in 23:55.9, and Lanesville’s Emilee Snyder finished 43rd in 24.39.0. South Central’s Hannah Cory was 90th in 29:30.0.
In the boys’ race, South Central’s Maddox Baker went out in front but it wasn’t long before Jasper’s Abe Eckman overtook Baker and went to the front. Eckman went unchallenged through the remainder of the 3.1-mile course in 16 minutes, 47.2 seconds, six seconds ahead of runner-up Borden’s Gavin Just (16:53.4). Southridge’s Dylan Bland was third at 16:55.1, and Jaryn Weinel and Harrison Hulsman were fourth (16:59.6) and fifth (17:02.5), respectively.
“I felt decent,” said Eckman. “The first was 5:08. It was pretty chill. The second mile pretty muddy at high 5:30s and then the last mile was 5:20. It felt smooth. I wasn’t going for any specific time. I was just trying to win. I never really slipped or anything, but a couple of the corners, especially the second mile, there were a lot of mud gaps in there and puddles.”
Northeast Dubois runner Pierce Brinkman was sixth (17:18.5), Perry Central’s Cole Hess seventh (17:19.6) and North Harrison’s Jacob Wenning cracked the top 10 with an eighth-place finish.
“I’m in a little bit better shape, but I killed myself in the first mile,” Wenning said. “I went out too hard. It was a good race, and I’m looking forward to a great season. If it stays like this, I think it will be OK.
“The corners were really muddy so it was really wet with wet shoes, and I hate running in wet shoes,” he said. “But, overall, I thought it was pretty good. It wasn’t nearly tore up as I thought it was going to be.”
One person missing from the meet was Corydon Central standout Camden Marshall, who was preparing to run in a state preview meet two days later. That meant the other members of the Panthers’ team had to step up their game. The Panthers finished third in the team points standings.
“(Marshall) has to rest up and make sure he does good,” said teammate Bryce Weber. “We just ran like we always do. We just knew we didn’t have Cam to cushion us, so we knew we had to go up a little bit more and push it. I saw everybody running through, and it looked like everybody pushed it. We have some that are starting to step up, especially our underclassmen. A few of them are starting to step up, and some of our upperclassmen are starting to come out of their shells.”
South Central’s Baker finished 11th in 17:50.8, and North Harrison’s Ox Castro was 14th in 17:57.6. Floyd Central’s Nate Wheatley finished 18th in 18:36.2, and Crawford County’s Klayton Grizzel finished 37th in 19:23.3. Lanesville’s Isaac Love finished 85th for the Eagles in 22:37.3.
Girls’ Scores – Jasper 41, Charlestown 99, Floyd Central 103, Borden 119, Bedford North Lawrence 135, Southridge 175, Northeast Dubois 185, Perry Central 216, North Harrison 254, Jeffersonville 264, Crawford County 297, Lanesville 300, Scottsburg 310, Tell City 311, Paoli 343, Brownstown Central 393.
Girls’ Results – 1. Andi VanMeter (Jasp) 19:31.4, 2. Kelsea George (Jasp) 20:33.5, 3. Ally Wigand (Jasp) 20:46.9, 4. Jaelynn Etienne (PC) 21:04.2, 5. Autumn
Spence (BNL) 21:21.2, 6. Kaylie Magallanes (Bor) 21.31.7, 7. Emily Armstrong (Cory) 21:40.7, 8. Sara Livingston (NED) 21:47.7, 9. Grace Tanksley (BNL) 21:52.0, 10. Skylar Cochran (Chrlstn) 22:04.8.
Boys’ Scores – Jasper 33, Borden 67, Corydon Central 152, Northeast Dubois 164, Floyd Central 167, Eastern 170, South Central 187, Brownstown Central 203, Perry Central 217, Jeffersonville 236, North Harrison 238, Scottsburg 346, Lanesville 387, Paoli 447.
Boys’ Results – 1. Abe Eckman (Jspr) 16:47.2, 2. Gavin Just (Bor) 16:53.4, 3. Dyland Bland (Sthrdg) 16:55.1, 4. Jayrn Weinel (Jasp) 16:59.6, 5. Harrison Hulsman (Jasp) 17:02.5, 6. Pierce Brinkman (NED) 17:18.5, 7. Cole Hess (PC) 17:19.6, 8. Jacob Wenning (NH) 17:38.5, 9. Will Gubbins (Jasp) 17:45.7; 10. Lody Cheatham (Bor) 17:49.0.