NASHVILLE — Columbus East junior Paul Bean was barely ahead of Columbus North senior Ben Rankin heading into the final stretch of the Brown County cross-country sectional at Eagle Park.
With Rankin starting to make his move, Bean gave one final push. That push created a bit of separation from Rankin, and Bean simply could not be caught.
In the team races, however, the Bull Dogs dominated. The No. 10 North boys won with 24 points, followed by Seymour (89), East (114) and Brown County (126).
On the girls side, No. 2 North — led by a top finish from junior Rachel Brougher — had four runners place in the top five to claim a 19-40 margin against No. 15 Seymour. East was third (112), while Brown County was fifth (154).
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Bean took the boys race in 15 minutes 57.04 seconds for 5,000 meters (3.1 miles). Rankin finished runner-up in 16:03.66.
“Once (Rankin) got close to me, I put it all in one big surge to keep me ahead of him,” Bean said.
Rankin said it was a great battle to see who would come out on top.
“It was very competitive and close right until the very end,” Rankin said. “I was just trying to keep up with him as much as I can. He found his surge and just got me in the end.”
The win was only Bean’s second victory in his three-year career. In addition to being sectional champion, Bean was crowned the Hoosier Hills Conference champion Oct. 3. He is peaking at a perfect time.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Bean said. “I have been training really hard at practice and I push myself to do better.”
“I’m extremely proud of Paul,” East boys coach Ryan Burke said. “He has been working extremely hard to get where he is and it is exciting to see him finally succeed.”
Brown County’s Cole Chudy placed third in 16:18.65. Chudy said his time could have improved.
“I came out a little too slow, and I should have just ran up with the lead pack to start,” Chudy said. “That’s something I can change, and hopefully I can lower my time to under 16 minutes.”
“He has been going at a really, really high level,” Brown County’s Rob Abraham said. “It’s a matter of getting him to believe that he can go out these and run with those top guys.”
The Bull Dogs claimed the next six spots individually. Elijah Brooks was fourth (16:19.07), followed by Chase McQueen (16:20.14), Chandler Steward (16:22.51), Justin Spoon (16:26.87), Alec Embry (16:30.51) and Braden Hammond (16:33.05).
“It is really appreciative of how hard they worked over the last year,” North coach Rick Weinheimer said. “Six of these guys had not raced in a sectional before and came in and raced a dominating sectional today. I felt really good with how everyone on the team contributed.”
East’s Jonathan Clayton finished in 21st (17:15.56). Josh Sensanbaugher was 28th (17:36.83), Shaunak Deshmukh 30th (17:41.32) and Michael Zieleniuk 38th (18:03.76).
“This has been our best race as a team this season,” Burke said. “We had five of our top seven guys (set a personal record). We put in a good week of practice and came out and competed well.”
For the Eagles, Wyatt Wyman finished 16th (17:00.19). Marino Dolph was 34th (17:57.33), Brock Updike 37th (18:00.54) and Tanner Gray 42nd (18:16.74).
The Owls were led by Tim Molinari, who finished 11th (16:36.57). Cameron Deppen was 13th (16:47.94), Jacob Voss 18th (17:01.44), Alex Lovins 23rd (17:18.88), and Hunter Buserman 24th (17:24.10).
Trinity Lutheran’s AJ Goecker advanced to the regional as an individual by finishing in the top 10 on a non-advancing team. Goecker finished in 26th overall in 17:28.44.
Hauser finished 10th with 283 points. Owen Rush took 44th in 18:22.38, while David Seelye was 49th (18:41.77) and Josh Adams 59th (19:39.15).
Edinburgh’s top runner was Addison Lollar, who finished in 71st in 21:20.83.
Brougher dominated the girls field, running 18:13.92.
“I had a personal best today and the weather and conditions were amazing,” Brougher said. “It’s ‘Dogtober’ for the team, and this is always the time North is always at their best. Our team performed so well today, and I am happy with how everything went.”
North’s Sierra Lax claimed second in 18:47.21. Arig Tong was fourth (18:50.56), Nina Bouthier fifth (18:52.16), Allison Coffey seventh (19:10.82), Ensley Hammond ninth (19:35.11) and Ana Singhal 13th (20:02.44).
“It was solid efforts from all of them,” Weinheimer said. “I like where we are. Rachel and Sierra continued to run well up front, but Nina, Arig and Allison are getting better and better, and at the state meet, that is a place where you can save yourself a lot of points. I feel like this is a good start.”
For the Owls, Emma Brock finished third (18:49.35). Ashton Chase was sixth (18:55.51), Megan Winter eighth (19:34.08), Claire Loebker 11th (19:43.03), and Oriana Morales 12th (19:57.97).
Kira Singer led the Olympians with a 16th-place finish in 20:56.43. Emma Mensendiek was 17th (21:09.07), Maddie Lyons 18th (21:26.97), Morgan Ketron 31st (22:26.48) and Lindsey Morgan 32nd (22:27.37).
“My top three girls were where I expected them to be,” East girls coach Leslie Weaver said. “Lindsey Morgan stepped it up for us today, and I thought overall, we had a good race.”
The Eagles’ Corrissa Proctor was the only non-Bull Dog or Owl to place in the top 14 spots by finishing 10th (19:41.85). Haley Abraham was 26th (22:12.47), Jalynn Stanford 39th (23:13.05), Samantha Francis 40th (23:15.88) and Molly Austin 43rd (23:27.42).
“(Proctor) had a big breakout run today,” Rob Abraham said. “She’s been doubting herself, but goes from 20:16 down to 19:41, so it was nice to finally see her believe in herself and the training we do for her.”
Edinburgh finished 10th (303), and Hauser was 11th (308). The Lancers’ Blythe Carmen took in 57th in 26:06.09.
Hauser’s top finishers were Naomi Gollmer in 50th (24:52.36), Maleah Bates in 54th (25:18.36) and Kristin Keith in 71st (30:43.48). Trinity Lutheran’s Andrea Foster placed 59th in 26:17.63.