State-ing His Case: Kilbarger-Stumpff repeats as The Republic Boys Cross-Country Runner of the Year

When Reese Kilbarger-Stumpff was getting dressed for the biggest race of his high school career Oct. 30, he realized he was missing one key component — his racing socks.

The Columbus North senior had other pair of socks, just not the ones he liked to race in. So coach Danny Fisher stepped in to lend Kilbarger-Stumpff his white socks with the Flying blue “C.”

“I’ve not forgotten race socks in awhile because I’m pretty particular about the stuff I like to race in,” Kilbarger-Stumpff. “But I for whatever reason spaced them among all the other preparations. When I went to put the spikes on, I was like, ‘Oh man, the socks that I’d like to race in.’ He heard that, and he was like, ‘Do you want the white socks?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ It was a cool symbol.”

The rest is history. Kilbarger-Stumpff went out and won the state cross-country race, joining Christian Wagner as the only Bull Dogs to win cross-country individual state titles.

“That’s insane,” Kilbarger-Stumpff said. “Having been a fan of whoever ends up winning state, it’s just a big thing in Indiana. It’s huge. It’s very, very cool, and being able to experience both sides — team title last year and the individual title this year is very cool.”

Kilbarger-Stumpff is The Republic Boys Cross-Country Runner of the Year for the second consecutive year. He was honored last year after finishing fourth individually at state to lead North to the team championship.

“It was probably the most fun cross season I’ve had in awhile,” Kilbarger-Stumpff said. “It was much more interesting, more things going on. I was very happy with it. It was just a lot of fun running with the team. A lot of big goals, a lot of big variables and a lot of fun races were happening.”

Three-and-a-half years ago, Kilbarger-Stumpff arrived at North as part of a heralded freshman class. North coach Danny Fisher was in his second year after taking over for Hall-of-Famer Rick Weinheimer.

“I knew Reese was very talented,” Fisher said. “Him and Matt Newell, Evan Carr, Will Kiel — those guys were all really talented, and they came in with an attitude that they were fearless, and they had no limits. That was the second ingredient that you need with that. They were confident in what they were capable of and confident in how they go about it, and that’s what we’re all about. I had no doubt that he could at least put himself in the conversation and be a great runner for Columbus North.”

Kilbarger-Stumpff ran a personal-best of 14 minutes, 58 seconds for 5,000 meters (3.1 miles) at Brown County’s Eagle Classic.

“It was kind of a goal in my head a little bit to break 15, but I really didn’t know when it was going to happen,” Kilbarger-Stumpff said. “Naively, freshman year, I was like, ‘I ran 16:30 this year.’ if I drop 30 seconds a year, I’ll be sub-15 by senior year.’ I didn’t really know the magnitude of that, and then it ended up happening almost exactly.”

Now, the goal is to break 4:00 in the 1,600 meters during track season. Kilbarger-Stumpff ran 4:07 last year to finish second at state.

“He’s one of those kids that his mind works without limits in terms of what he can accomplish,” Fisher said. “Last year maybe in track, he learned how to run as fast as he can or run really fast, and then the next step of that is learning how to win races, and I think throughout the year this year, he put down some quick times, but he also learned some good things in terms of how to win races, but he also learned from his mistakes, too, and I think that all culminated in the state meet. He did what he had to do. He made decisions on his own throughout the race. We have no halftime or quarters or timeouts, so when that gun goes off, he has to make decisions on his own in terms of how to win a race, and I think every race set him up for the state meet.”

Even before his state title, Kilbarger-Stumpff was a highly-sought after recruit. He visited Boise State, Colorado, Colorado State and Purdue and committed to Colorado last weekend.

Looking back, Kilbarger-Stumpff is thankful for what he’s been able to experience with the Bull Dogs.

“I don’t think I could have been more fortunate with how it played out, actually,” Kilbarger-Stumpff said. “I came in when coach Fisher was kind of learning, so we all got to learn and experience next to him, and I came in with great, great teammates, so I’ve been fortunate to be with them the entire time. I can’t think of a single thing that has impacted my life more than being able to run here.”

The Republic 2021 All-Area Boys Cross-Country team:

Reese Kilbarger-Stumpff, Columbus North: The senior won regional, semistate and state titles.

Matt Newell, Columbus North: The senior finished second in the regional, fourth at semistate and 13th at state.

Clayton Guthrie, Columbus North: The junior finished third in the regional, 12th at semistate and 35th at state.

Mateo Mendez, Columbus North: The junior finished fourth in the regional, 13th at semistate and 64th at state.

Evan Carr, Columbus North: The senior finished seventh in the regional, 18th at semistate and 82d at state.

Will Kiel, Columbus North: The senior finished 10th in the regional, 35th at semistate and 88th at state.

Will Russell, Columbus North: The junior finished fifth in the regional, 40th at semistate and 93rd at state.

Chase Austin, Brown County: The junior won the Brown County Sectional and finished sixth in the regional, 17th at semistate and 68th at state.

Eli Wahlman, Jennings County: The junior finished second in the Austin Sectional, 12th in the regional and 66th at semistate.

Lane Elsner, Jennings County: The senior finished fifth in the Austin Sectional, 19 in the regional and 87th at semistate.

Honorable mention

Brown County: Waylon Patrick, Rhett Silbaugh, Case Smith, Cord Smith. Columbus East: Jackson Brookes. Columbus North: Sam Hobbeheydar, Kellen Hottell, Aidan Jeffares, Adam Reckers, Charlie Smith, Akot Tong, Neal White. Hauser: Colin Kistler. Jennings County: Brenden Baker, Aidan Ernstes, Elijah Hatton, Noah McFall, Logan McIntosh. South Decatur: Trevor Newby.