Surprising Seconds: St. Peter’s boys, girls finish runner-up in Lutheran School National Championships

The St. Peter’s boys won a national cross-country championship in 2017 and were runner-up a year later, and the St. Peter’s girls were runner-up in 2019, but coach Bonnie Wittman didn’t have incredibly high expectations going into last month’s Lutheran School National Championships.

So when the St. Peter’s boys and girls both came away with runner-up finishes in this year’s meet at Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin, it may have come as a pleasant surprise.

“They did very well to get second,” Wittman said. “I wasn’t expecting them to finish so well. We were very happy with how they finished.”

Eighth-grader Ainsley Sherlock placed third in the girls race, and seventh-grader Andi Carothers took seventh to earn All-American honors in the seventh-and-eighth-grade division. Fifth-grader Sydney Madden was an All-American for a top-21 finish among fifth-and-sixth-graders.

Three St. Peter’s boys also earned All-American honors. Seventh-grader Levi Carothers and eighth-grader Macario Mendez made it for the seventh-and-eighth-grade division, and sixth-grader Norman Dickson was an All-American for fifth-and-sixth-graders with top-21 finishes.

While the St. Peter’s boys received a trophy at the meet for their runner-up finish, the girls’ celebration was a little delayed. They originally finished third, but moved up after second-place Luther-Run from the Fort Wayne area was disqualified after it was discovered the team had runners from multiple schools.

Wittman and her husband Tony started the St. Peter’s cross-country program a decade ago. Bonnie is joined on the coaching staff by her sister Carol Wettschurack, along with Chris Jacobi, Shelli Carothers and Jeff Niewedde.

The school has turned out multiple runners that have gone on to star for Columbus North and Columbus East, including Lily Baker, who led the Bull Dogs to this year’s state high school girls cross-country title.

“The interesting thing is, I have records of Lily Baker and Mateo Mendez, who ran at St. Peter’s, and it’s interesting to see where Ainsley and Andi and Sydney are to where Lily was when she was in sixth and seventh and eighth grades,” Shelli Carothers said. “If they continue running where they are, they could make an impact in the future.”