Runners get wet and wild in tourney tuneupOctober 3, 2012
By JOHN PATISHNOCK
Herald Sports Writer
DUBOIS — The Northeast Dubois Invitational doubled as some sort of oddly conceived athletic board game Tuesday night.
Certain spots around the Jeeps’ baseball field proved particularly tricky to navigate. Mist surrounding the Dubois Community Club Lake however, offered a boost to the Jeeps’ Justin Kahle, who said “splashing in the mud was pretty fun.”
Booby traps weren’t necessarily awaiting anyone, though runners did have to slow down around corners and gingerly step to avoid slipping down ridges.
And speaking of mud, well, that was everywhere.
“At the beginning, once we’re starting, all the mud was flying back in your face,” said Jasper’s Luci Hulsman, who finished sixth overall in the cross country meet.
“I was halfway walking around some of the stuff, it was just that bad,” added Jasper freshman Hannah Welsh, who finished first overall (20:01) to lead the Wildcats’ victory in the girls race.
Jasper (45 points) finished ahead of Bedford North Lawrence (59), Southridge (74) and Northeast Dubois (86).
Bedford North Lawrence (20) claimed the boys race, as Northeast Dubois (109) finished fourth, Jasper (126) came in fifth and Southridge (186) placed seventh.
None of the area teams spoke of suffering any injuries, though Jasper was without No. 1 runner Kyle Knies, who was out with an illness. Northeast Dubois also competed without Ashton Knies, who played in the Jeeps’ soccer sectional contest.
Tuesday presented a conundrum for those who did run: Try to find a balance between pushing yourself and not risking injury on the sloppy terrain. The proposition was especially important with sectional only a week away.
“You don’t want anyone to get injured, that’s for sure,” Jasper coach Kevin Schipp said, “but you don’t want to hold them back too much, either.”
Runners found a happy medium.
Southridge freshman Chase Bland (18:39) posted an 18th-place finish, leading the Raiders as he finished first among freshmen.
“At the beginning (of the season), I really didn’t know how I was going to do,” Bland said. “The first meet went by, I did pretty good. The second meet I got better and it seemed like every meet I cut off 15 seconds.”
A freshman, Casey Lamb, also led the Raiders in the girls meet. She finished third overall, posting a time of 21:23.
Despite the weather and temperatures that hovered in the 50s, Southridge coach Leslie Denu said Lamb “couldn’t wait to get out and run this — with no tights on — she was ready.”
“She is just a hard worker and she is very determined and she’ll do anything to better herself and better her times,” Denu continued. “I just love having her out here because she’s a really good worker and she likes competing with Hannah Welsh of Jasper. Since she’s a freshman up there, I think that motivates her to get up in the pack.”
Lamb and Welsh, both of whom nearly slipped on certain parts of the course, embraced within moments of finishing.
The Raider boys, meanwhile, “run well on hills,” Denu said, giving another reason why runners were able to manage the conditions.
While the expected runners placed near the top, others impressed.
Kahle, who finished sixth overall, was in 10th place toward the end of the race, causing Northeast Dubois coach Vic Betz to be surprised once he saw the final results.
Luke Kerstiens, who said, “I feel like I’m in the right spot; maybe just a little bit faster, I’ll be there” in explaining his season’s progress, finished 16th. Takumi Mundy and Jalen Seger also ran well for the boys, Betz said.
The Jeep girls “really packed it in tonight,” Betz said, as the top five runners finished within a minute and 39 seconds of one another.
“All of a sudden I’m sort of excited about the sectional, because I think we’ve got a crack at possibly going on,” Betz said.
Jasper’s Holden Weidenbenner, who Schipp said “ran a great race,” finished 26th, filling in for Knies. Weidenbenner ran in the JV race in Saturday’s Big Eight Conference meet.
“It’s a lot different, it feels like you have more pressure and like it’s a lot harder race,” Weidenbenner said of the difference.
Schipp also highlighted Hulsman and Madison Dorsam, who finished 15th, for stepping up in the girls race.
The Jasper coach was pleased with both squads, saying, “I thought they came out and definitely competed tonight. I saw we really closed the gap in our pack in both races.”
Betz added that the kids who may not have put in as much work over the summer are now caught up and ready for postseason competition. The Jeeps aren’t the only ones.
Schipp joined Betz in talking excitedly of next Tuesday’s sectional at Vincennes University Jasper Campus, saying the Wildcats improved upon their showing at the conference meet over the weekend.
Slick grass or dusty trails, it doesn’t sound like there’s a preference for sectional. Either way, the teams will be ready.
“I thought they looked a lot stronger tonight than they did Saturday,” Schipp said. “That’s what you want this time of year. You want to get ready for next Tuesday and be firing on all cylinders.”
Contact John Patishnock at email@example.com.
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