EATON — Eaton Cross Country coach Randy McKinney thought his boys and girls teams had a chance to pull off a rare sweep at the Eaton Invitational last weekend.
His team proved him right as the girls claimed their first title in some time and the boys added to their recent success.
“It’s really tough to be any more pleased, to this point in the season, with the girls and boys teams than I am after their performances at the Eaton Invitational,” McKinney said. “It has been a long time since both the girls and boys captured the D-II team championship on the same day at the Eaton Invitational.”
The girls team placed three runners in the top 10 and finished with 48 points, while the boys placed four in the top 10 and totaled 29 points on Saturday, Sept. 15, at Fort St. Clair Park. Monroe’s girls were second with 69 points and Celina was third with 73. On the boys side, Badin was second with 49 and Milton-Union was third with 118.
“Going into the meet we knew we had a chance to capture a double championship if we raced with a focus and purpose. The girls knew that Celina and Badin would be their team competition for the title while the boys knew that Badin and Monroe would be their team competition for the team title,” McKinney said. “Their focus and confidence completed the task and brought two high school varsity team titles to our program along with a additional junior high girls team title as well. Our junior high girls beat a tough Oakwood team by five points for the team championship.”
McKinney said the girls ran an outstanding team race, placing all seven runners in the top 20.
Ali Mowen (22:13.0), Claire Meyer (22:13.7) and Brooke Caplinger (22:31.4) had great finishes with 7th, 8th and 9th place finishes respectively, according to McKinney.
“Brooke and Ali worked hard over the first 2 1/2 miles to close the small gap that Claire had on them, which is something we’ve been talking about and working on for the last few weeks,” McKinney said. “In the last 10 meters of the race Ali managed to just get around Claire to finish a half step in front of Claire with Brooke close behind.”
The next four girls that worked well together during the race to pull one another along were Briana Baker (11th, 23:12.5), Cari Metz (13th, 23:35.6), Alexis Owen (14th, 23:39.6) and Rachel Buckler (20th, 24:03.2).
”They did a super job working together to finish 11th, 13th, 14th and 20th. When you can place seven runners in the top 20 at an invitational it’s hard for anyone else to beat you,” McKinney said. “Many of our girls had season personal best while a few even had personal career best times.”
On the boys side it was almost a carbon copy of the girls. The boys placed the top seven in the top 20 places, 11 in the top 29 places, captured the team title and set many personal season and career best times, according to McKinney.
Alex McCarty (1st, 16:52.8) ran an outstanding race taking charge at the 1 1/4 mile point on the course easily cruising in 20 seconds ahead of Nathan Thobe of Middletown Madison. Eagle teammates Alex Newport and Jack Bortel worked well off one another during the entire race with Newport (17:22.9) finishing 4th and Bortel (17:23.2) finishing 5th overall with less than one second separating them, according to McKinney.
McKinney added, Dylan Suding (18:04.2) and Todd Coates (18:09.0) continued to work well together during the entire race placing 11th and 12th respectively less than five seconds apart. Cole Bulach (18:33.4) and KeAnthony Bales (18:36.5) ran great races to finish up 19th and 20th respectively less than three seconds apart.
The junior high girls captured the team title by placing seven runners in the top 20 places. Kierra Elliott captured the individual title with a first place finish in 13:30.2 . The junior high boys team place 8th overall with Kolby Hamilton leading the way for the eagles with a 7th place finish in a time of 12:32.
“I just can’t say enough positive things about the overall races and finishes of each of our athletes male and female alike. There are a lot of young men and women on this team that are learning how to encourage and compete with one another to help pull one another along which continues to bring down our times and improve their team finishes,” McKinney said. “Right now it’s more than the top seven boys or the top seven girls that are really working to make themselves the best they can be week to week as we compete in what is a very challenging season schedule. “
Other Eaton high school boys finishers include, LeKendric Brown (22nd), Austin Kopf (25th), Gideon Smith (28th), Logan Cottle (29th), Austin Pugh (43rd), Cole Hauser (65th), Isaac Rohrer (72nd) and Ben Brewer (76th)
Other girls high school finishers were Alaina Webb (34th), Laura Clyburn (35th), Arica Hamilton (37th), Elaina Maynard (40th), Ashlynn Conley (42nd), Grace Risner (56th), Nina Albinus (59th), Katy Rich (76th), Maddie Meredith (80th) and Jacque Owen (41st, reserve race).
Junior High girls finishers: Rylie Haynes (6th), Kaili Hewitt (8th), Stephanie Gibson (9th), Ali Schmidt (17th), Cami McCloud (19th), Kendall Miller (20th), Kalah Stuart (34th), Anna Betscher (38th), Katie Hauser (56th).
Junior high boys finishers: Jaxon Roth (44th), Bradley Gifford (46th), Charlie Roth (52nd), Nick Laycox (95th).
“I believe our invitational offers a unique and exciting Cross Country atmosphere for both the athletes, coaches and spectators alike that is tough to find at any other meet during the season. We are lucky and blessed to have Fort St. Clair as our home course. The City of Eaton just does an outstanding job helping provide a quality facility for our program and all the teams that attend from across Southeast Indiana and Southwest Ohio,” McKinney said.
“I didn’t know whether the new downhill and the new trail through the woods would speed up the course, slow it down or if it would run about the same time wise. I believe it actually slowed the course down in comparison to the past course, but that speaks to the effort and the focus of both the boys and girls teams. We had a great morning to race with the overcast skies, but our athletes had to deal with the high humidity which I believe was a factor for everyone racing throughout the day.
“I’m very happy we were able to change the course and provide an additional opportunity for the athletes to run through another 600 meters of forest.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH