By Garth Shanklin
Nearly 450 athletes hit the pavement on the Western Brown campus Tuesday night to participate in the 2015 Jim Neu Cross Country Invitational.
The racing started with the girls’ junior high runners taking to the course for the 3K event. Eastern’s Camryn Pickerill crossed the line first, finishing nearly 25 seconds ahead of runner-up Avery Stewart from Miami Valley Christian Academy.
The Warriors would place three runners in the top nine finishers, but New Richmond placed all seven runners in the top 13 to take the team championship by 10 points.
Kati Colwell led Georgetown, coming home in fifth place while Hanna Lewin from Felicity and Bethel’s Abbie Wheeler led their teams with 20th and 21st-place finishes, respectively. Jadyn Flores led Western Brown’s runners, crossing the line in 30th place.
In the boys’ 3K, Blanchester’s Hunter Browning clocked a time of 12:04.06, 22 seconds better than Cincinnati Country Day’s Cader Rowe. Sam Frondorf of Bethel finished third, seconds ahead of Eastern’s Ian Wiles and Batavia’s Noah Patel.
Western Brown’s boys were led by Cade Eyer, who finished seventh. Kody Swinford finished 19th to lead Felicity while the Ripley Blue Jays got a 26th place finish out of Tristen Fisher to pace their squad.
Batavia and Eastern tied for the team title, which was awarded to Batavia due to a faster average time. Batavia averaged 13:07.14 while Eastern came in less than two seconds slower at 13.09.07.
The girls’ varsity 5K was dominated by New Richmond. Claire Burns and Shelbi Simpson finished first and second, respectively, and two other New Richmond runners cracked the top 10. Sophie Leto came in fifth for Western Brown, three seconds in front of Felicity’s Kaitlin Sharp.
Allison Day just missed a top-10 finish, placing 12th overall for Eastern. Bethel placed four runners between 14th and 19th, led by Morgan Reinhart.
Kelsey Miller’s 28th-place finish led Georgetown, one spot ahead of Ripley’s Kristen Abbot.
Placing the top five runners in the top 11 tends to help the scoring, which is precisely why New Richmond took home the team title by 34 points over Bethel. Western Brown finished third with 77 points.
The boys race rounded out the two-hour long event. Bethel’s Jackson Coats raced Eastern’s Blake Rigdon to the finish, beating him by two seconds to take home the individual title. Felicity’s Jared Boeckmann came in third, followed by a pair of Batavia runners.
Ripley’s Josh Deaton cracked the top 10, finishing ninth. Two more Eastern runners, Logan Lainhart and Garyn Purdy finished just behind Deaton.
Georgetown’s Finn Tomlin came in 19th, one spot ahead of Western Brown’s Rob Conaty. New Richmond would win the boys’ team title too, sweeping the varsity championships. Batavia, Felicity, Eastern and Western Brown rounded out the top five.
Reach Garth Shanklin at 937-378-6161 or firstname.lastname@example.org.