Heading into the 2020 season, Paige Brunner and the Golden Eagles believed they could be in store for a special fall season, and in the Grant Four cross country meet, Oak Hill accomplished one of their first major goals – winning another pair of county championships.
Oak Hill’s cross-country dominance within the county continued on Tuesday evening as the girls won their eighth straight Grant Four race, while the boys won their fifth straight and their 21st county title in the past 22 seasons. The Oak Hill girls scored 17 points, while the boys scored 16.
Despite dealing with a rash of injuries early in the season, the Oak Hill girls are slowly getting back to full strength, and it showed on the course. Kinzie Robey and Selah Jackson, the Golden Eagles’ No. 1 and 2 runners, led the entire race, while both recording season-best times. Robey finished as the individual champion in 19:38.71, while Jackson placed second in 19:57.56.
With the New Haven Classic on the horizon, a likely semi-state preview of some of the best teams in the state of Indiana, Brunner was pleased with how both Robey and Jackson performed heading into one of the biggest races of the season.
“I have no complaints whatsoever,” Brunner said of Robey’s and Jackson’s performances. “This meet sets up well for them. Both of them ran season bests tonight, and I think it should carry over.”
Along with Robey and Jackson, the Golden Eagles placed seven runners in the top eight slots. Freshman Leah Highley came on strong in the final leg to finish third (20:47.1), Sadie Wisner placed fifth (21:24.55), Emma Bledsoe sixth (21:33.20), Mallory Cheek seventh (21:58.05), and Kailynn Wisner eighth (22:07.47).
Olivia Howell’s stout season for Eastbrook continued in the Grant Four with a fourth-place finish and a time of 20:47.31. Eastbrook placed second as a team with a score of 46. For Madison-Grant, Emma Ewer and Lacey Mayfield finished in 14th and 15th as the Argylls finished in third place. Kathleen Robinson led Mississinewa with a time of 27:32.02.
“Our girls are dropping at least a minute off of every race,” Mississinewa Head Coach Dustin Jones said. “Tonight wasn’t the best, but you are going to have a bad night [once in a while.] I’ve been happy with what they’ve been turning out.”
On the boys’ side, Oak Hill’s top three runners did not compete. Junior Sol O’Blenis and senior Jacob Winger were held out to focus on training for the New Haven Classic, while stellar freshman Owen Jackson is dealing with a minor knee ailment.
However, Oak Hill’s depth was on full display. With those guys out, it was Landon Biegel’s time to shine, and the sophomore did not disappoint, crossing the finish line in 16:40.80. Biegel led from the onset and built a comfortable gap during the second mile, leading the next closet runner by 48 seconds.
“A day like today, with Biegel up front, helps him and helps those other guys a little bit more confidently,” Brunner said. “Hopefully, that transfers over when we need them to step it up.”
Lucas Cates (17:22.95), Trenton Sweet (17:25.04), and Landon Ashley (17:46.21) rounded out the top four, while Harper Dedman placed sixth in his first ever 5K race (18:09.77). “Landon is a guy that should definitely be in our top five, six, and seven,” Brunner said. “We want him holding on to one of those spots. Our pack of freshmen all run really, really well, [setting] personal records, and Harper Dedman ran his first 5k ever and finished in the top 10 in the county.
“It was a good night We got out of it what we wanted – win a couple of championships and let the younger kids run a little bit.”
Mississinewa finished in second place, scoring 57. Jon Alsup finished in fifth overall (17:49.7), while Sam Bolden came in 14th (18:51.8).
“We have a strong chance to make it to regionals as a team,” Jones said. “At the start of the season, we had a lot of work to do, but these last couple of meets have helped me see that we can compete. Now, we just have to really start fighting for it.”
Madison-Grant collected 65 points and a third-place finish, with Chad Harbert (19:03.90) and Kaden Howell (19:04.43) leading the way. Eastbrook’s Thane Syswerda placed eighth (18:17.1) for the Panthers.