By Ron Nunnari
CLAYTON — Thunderbolts runners turned in strong performances Saturday during the annual Northmont Cross Country Invitational.
Both the boys and girls teams placed fourth in their respective races.
Samantha Erbach of Waynesville took 1st place in the high school girls competition with a time of 18 minutes and 33.31 seconds (18:33.31). Makenna Long led the Lady Bolts by placing 10th in 21:01.97.
Waynesville took 1st place in the ten team girls field with 47 points with Centerville 2nd (61), Lancaster 3rd (72) and Northmont 4th (93).
On the boys side, Lancaster dominated the race with four runners placing in the top five. Wes Taylor led the Golden Gales taking 1st place in 16:29.61 followed by teammates Zane Schorr in 2nd place (16:43.66), Carter Schorr 3rd place (16:44.60), with Northmont’s Dominic Lopez 4th (16:52.12) and Lancaster’s Carter Davis 5th (17:12.78).
The Golden Gales took 1st place in the 14 team boys field with 21 points followed by Tippecanoe (84), Centerville (86), and Northmont (120).
For the Lady Bolts, in addition to Long taking 10th place, Jazlen Simpson finished 13th (21:46.45), Amelia Brown 16th (22:05.42), Briana Pressel 25th (22:39.36), Addison Brown 29th (22:48.38), Libbi Mergler 53rd (24:26.14), Abbie Weeks 54th (24:29.06), Lilia Lopez 83rd (26:23.16), Katie Wayne 86th (26:47.67), Maddie Abbott 129th (30:34.18), Abby Barnes 141st (31:57.15), and Emily Warren 144th (33:29.80).
“After losing the Drosak twins due to graduation I wasn’t sure how good the girls team would be. However, after Saturday I am impressed with the girls team,” said Northmont coach Joe Barnes. “It was a hot and muggy morning, and they went out and raced. The times don’t show it, but their placing in the race do. When you have your top five in the top 30 you know you are doing well in the race.”
This year’s girls team is built around a combination of youth and a couple strong senior leaders (Amelia Brown and Libbi Mergler) that Barnes said will make this team competitive all season.
“I think it will be a fun year to watch them grow. Individually I really liked what I saw out of each girl, especially freshman Makenna Long. She raced well from start to finish,” Barnes said.
Along with Lopez placing 4th in the boys race, other Northmont runners included Daron Porter 11th (17:48.89), Owen Bush 18th (18:21.51), Adam Wallace 46th (19:31.25), Grant Mergler 56th (19:55.13), Jack Bradley 75th (20:28.52), Daemani Lee 85th (20:43.49), Matthew Helmick 86th (20:43.90), Alex Moore 147th (22:51.41), Chase Bishop 163rd (23:14.28), Jacob Goble 197th (25:45.69), Henry Colley-Lambright 202nd (26:52.29), Owen Sanders 207th (27:29.43), and Cade Matthews 220th (30:55.93).
“Just like the girls team I wasn’t sure what to expect since I lost some key guys due to graduation, but they went out and competed as well in the hot and muggy morning,” Barnes said. “Freshman, Dominic Lopez looked very strong and didn’t look like he feared the competition. It is not every day you get a freshman on your team that can break 17 in his first race, and to do it on a day that is hot and humid is something special.”
Barnes said he is always worried about how his freshmen will react to the bump up from 2 miles to 5k, but each of them ran well for the conditions of the day. Just like the girls team the boys are dominated with youth, but very talented youth.
“Having four out of five boys as freshmen and still getting 4th overall says a lot about their talent and hard work,” Barnes added. “I can’t take all the credit for how the freshmen have worked hard this summer. They have a great leader in senior Daron Porter to show them the way and he has done an outstanding job.”
Reach Ron Nunnari at [email protected].