Perfection x2 / North boys, girls achieve perfect scores; East girls also advance

Columbus North’s top-ranked boys team went out and scored a “Perfect 15” points in Saturday morning’s North Regional by claiming the top five places.

Not to be outdone, the Bull Dogs’ top-ranked girls team followed by doing the same, taking the top five team positions.

It was a dominating performance by the North teams on their home Ceraland course. They’ll be joined at Saturday’s Brown County Semistate by the Columbus East girls, the Jennings County boys and girls and the Brown County boys after they all ran to top-five team finishes.

“Obviously, we have Reese (Kilbarger-Stumpff) and Matt (Newell) up front, but I think it just shows how strong of a team we are and what our potential is,” North boys coach Danny Fisher said. “I don’t know how many teams in the history of cross-country have swept a regional round. The boys were excited about that and eager to get back at it on Monday for next week. This is just where we want to be this time of year, rolling on all cylinders. Everybody is healthy and happy, and we’re having a blast running hard.”

Kilbarger-Stumpff won the boys race in 15 minutes, 21.7 minutes for 5,000 meters (3.1 miles). Newell and Clayton Guthrie took second and third, both in 15:54.5, and Mateo Mendez was just a tenth of a second behind them. Will Russell finished fifth in 16:02.1, while Evan Carr was seventh (16:08.2) and Will Kiel 10th (16:28.8).

“The goal was to try to pace a bunch of people and get a bunch of guys 15:40 or below,” Kilbarger-Stumpff said. “We didn’t quite get that, but we had a bunch of guys (setting personal records). We’re just making sure all the little boxes are checked, and everything is firing the way it needs to.”

Austin finished second in the boys meet with 61 points, followed by Jennings with 90, Brown County with 119 and Seymour with 127.

Eli Wahlman led Jennings with a 12th-place finish in 16:33.2. The next five Panthers finished in spots 18-through-22, with Aiden Ernstes running 17:03.6, Lane Elsner 17:06.2, Brenden Baker 17:14.0, Noah McFall 17:15.9 and Logan McIntosh 17:26.1.

“We’re definitely happy we’re moving on, but at the same time, we should have been second,” Jennings boys coach Luke Inman said. “I’m not happy with the effort that our boys showed. If we have the same effort going into next weekend, we don’t stand a chance at moving on to the state finals. So at this point, our guys just have to get focused, forget about this race today and just go out and race hard next Saturday.”

Brown County’s Chase Austin was the top non-North runner in the boys race, finishing sixth in 16:02.8. Rhett Silbaugh took 25th in 17:38.5, while Cord Smith was 27th (17:27.7), Case Smith 33rd (18:06.0), Rafe Silbaugh 36th (18:10.3).

“We wanted to make sure we made it back to semistate and not just be the 20th team at semistate this year,” Brown County coach Rob Abraham said. “We finally had everybody together today. We still have a little sickness we’re dealing with, but otherwise, they ran really well today.”

Hauser’s Colin Kistler, competing as an individual, finished 51st in 18:42.3.

East had four boys individuals competing. Jackson Brookes was 69th in 19:28.2, while Braeden Collins was 77th (20:07.3), Cayden Lynott 81st (20:17.3) and Derek Patchett 87th (22:19.1).

Meanwhile, in the girls race, North’s Lily Baker, Julia Kiesler and Brianna Newell went 1-2-3 in 18:03.0, 18:14.5 and 18:28.5. Baker, who , passed Kiesler on the finishing stretch, set a PR by seven seconds.

“I was nervous the wind was going to hold me back, but it was fine,” Baker said. “I just powered through. We had good training, so we were ready.”

After a pair of individuals finished fourth and fifth, the Bull Dogs’ Abby Jacobi, Katherine Rumsey and Sydney Morlok took spots 6-through-8 in 19:15.9, 19:18.2 and 19:36.6. Alyssa Green was 29th in 20:49.3.

“It was a little windy today, so that’s going to throw things off just a little bit with how they felt as the race went on,” North girls coach Rick Sluder said. “But they ran great. It’s always a little bit weird with fall break week and just how we feel when we have a lot of rest time. But we responded really well and ran really strong.”

Seymour finished second in the girls meet with 89 points. East (132) edged Austin (136) and Jennings (138) for third.

Chloe Krueger led the Olympians with a 17th-place finish in 20:19.1. Carly Otte took 25th in 20:47.5, while Laurel Knight was 27th (20:47.7), Jordan Spurgeon 44th (22:16.0) and Olivia Shoaf 48th (22:20.6).

“That was our goal all season — to keep moving on during the tournament, so we were happy with where we were,” East girls coach Jesse Shoaf said. “Our lead girls really led well for us. We had a lot of good races, a lot of PRs and season PRs. It was a great race for us.”

Halle Franks finished 10th in 19:46.1 to lead Jennings. Avery Willhite and Sarah Poole took 37th and 38th in 21:43.6 and 21:46.4, while Grace Gambrel was 41st (22:05.6) and Elizabeth Evans 46th (22:17.3).

“It was a goal,” Jennings girls coach Amanda Young said. “We worked hard all season, and I asked them to leave it all here, and they showed up and that’s what they did.”

As was the case in the boys race, Brown County had the top non-North finisher. Hadley Gradolf placed fourth in 18:43.7 to qualify for semistate as an individual.

“Hadley ran a nice, controlled race,” Abraham said. “With a few more people next weekend at semistate, hopefully she can get her PR and go back to state for the third time in a row.”

Hauser had two girls individuals competing. Callie Swegman finished 47th in 22:18.6, and Amanda Steward was 70th in 25:31.7.