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Apache boys' cross country takes sectional title

START: Wabash’s boys’ cross country team readies for the start of Saturday’s sectional at Indiana Wesleyan University.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

MARION — For the first time in three decades, the Wabash boys’ cross country team can refer to itself as sectional champions.

The Apaches dominated at Saturday’s sectional meet at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, taking first by 21 points with five finishers in the top 11 overall for the program’s first sectional title since 1987.

“It was something I knew that we could do if everyone raced well.,” Wabash head coach Ryan Evans said. “They had a good idea they would advance onto the next run so I said ‘Why not go out and try to win’ since we were pretty confident we would make it. That was the challenge and we raced really well.”

Wabash finished with 37 points on the day while Oak Hill took second with 56. Huntington North tallied 80 points, Eastbrook finished with 133 and Mississinewa grabbed the final regional-qualifying spot with 149 points.

Southwood finished in sixth with 186 points while Northfield took ninth with 217 points.

“Wabash is a team that if you wouldn’t have brought Fishers and Hamilton Southeastern up to our semi-state would have been a state qualifying team this year,” Oak Hill head coach Paige Brunner said. “They are very, very talented. I know they’ve been dealing with some injuries for part of the season, but they’re healthy now and when they’re healthy, they are dangerous. I thought they looked like our girls team did today, there was a lot of orange jerseys up front.”

Mississinewa’s Brennan Butche took first individually in a time of 16:07. Braden Sweet of Southwood followed in second and Huntington North’s Brock Spahr finished third. The Wabash duo of Dereck Vogel and Zack Reed took fourth and fifth, respectively.

Blakley Cole took eighth for Wabash with Aaron Nickerson finishing eight seconds in ninth. Koby Prater rounded out the scoring for the Apaches by placing 11th.

After seeing an order of Vogel-Prater-Reed-Cole-Nickerson in the Three Rivers Conference meet last week, the Apaches had only Vogel finish in the same spot at the sectional, showcasing the depth of Evan’s squad.

“It’s obviously a really good thing,” Evans said. “You have a lot of guys that really compete with each other. They always wanted to do better. They push each other every week. When you can come in and not know your top and still do well, that’s always a really good thing.”

For Southwood, Cayden Prickett earned a spot as an individual at next week’s regional after taking 33rd. Carson Kelley placed 44th, Liam McGouldrick took 51st, Landon Topliff finished 56th and Brayden Smith placed 63rd.

Northfield’s Andrew Burns finished 25th and Peyton Frye 34th with both advancing to the regional as individuals. Jasper Long placed 45th, Grant Dale 52nd and Alex Reed 61st.

In the girls’ race on the day, Northfield took third as a team with 93 points, trailing Oak Hill (32 points) in first and Huntington North (56) in second. Mississinewa placed fourth with 100 points and Southern Wells finished fifth with 107 points.

Northfield was paced by Allyssa McKillip in fourth place. Kenzie Till and Elizabeth Moore finished 22nd and 23rd while Brittany Bussard took 25th. Maddie Clark rounded out the scoring to finish 27th.

Individually, Wabash’s Whitney Working placed 13th and Angel Wehrly finished 32nd to earn spots at the regional. Camille Kugler finished 45th and Sierra Hall 48th to round out the finishers for the Apaches.

Southwood’s Monica Hobson also earned a spot in the regional with a 34th-place finish.

Indiana Wesleyan University will host the regional next week and, after the sectional performance, Evans and his side are setting the bar high as they continue through the postseason.

“From just talking to them after this, obviously we want to advance as far as we can in the tournament and do as well as we can in the tournament along the way,” Evans said. “After the win today, I feel like we’ll have a better positive mindset for the next future races.”

Manchester takes fourth in tight race

CULVER — Manchester’s girls’ cross country team earned a spot at the regional next week with a narrow fourth-place finish at the Culver Academies sectional on Saturday.

While Warsaw secured a comfortable win while Culver Academies, Rochester and Manchester were separated by just three points. The hosts took second with 68 points, the Zebras placed third with 70 and Manchester fourth with 71. Plymouth took fifth with 132 points.

Torina Runkel led the Squires by taking seventh on the day. Jaelyn Webb and Halle Briner took 12th and 13th, respectively, while Kambree Cashdollar placed 16th and Katie Barker 23rd to wrap up the scoring for Manchester.

In the boys’ meet, Manchester took sixth as a team with 154 points. Warsaw placed first with 36, Plymouth took second with 60 and Caston finished third with 88. Rochester and Culver Acadmies took the final two regional spots with 99 and 137 points, respectively.

Individually for the Squires, the trio of Carter Bedke (14th), Wilson Nettleton (33rd) and Reece Adameic (34th) all earned spots as individuals at the regional. Ethan Davis and Cade Jones finished 40th and 41st, respectively, to finish the scoring for Manchester.

The regional will take place back at Culver Academies on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.