Schipp seeks another state cross country tripJuly 8, 2020
BY COREY STOLZENBACH
It took Kevin Schipp 17 seasons for him to finally win a boys sectional championship as Jasper’s cross country coach, and his runners made even more history last fall by becoming the first Wildcats boys team to qualify for state since 1952.
The seniors on that team made a big impact. Jackson Miller, Drew O’Neil and Cameron Eckstein all did their part, with Miller finishing 25th overall at state and signing to run at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
The three of them are obviously not back for this year, but Schipp believes Jasper can get back to state with what it has.
The four returning runners who competed at state last year are sophomores William Gubbins, Harrison Hulsman and Jaryn Weinel, and junior Abram Eckman. Schipp attributed the senior leadership that team had to make it possible for four underclassmen to help the team to state. He said Miller and O’Neil took the lead to make sure the other runners put the mileage in.
“Having four of them back and being so young, just a little potential for improvement,” Schipp said. “I know quite a few of them have been working really hard through the spring and the early summer on their own. I think there’s definitely potential there, and we’re going to need some other people to step up to fill those spots and make us a better team and give us a little depth.”
Jasper’s top five will inevitably look different this season from a year ago, and Schipp sees some who could potentially break in. Seniors Blake Danzier and Seth Eckert are two possibilities to have a bigger role to score points. Freshmen Carter Blume, Carter Stenftenagel, Drew Buechler, Leo Eckman, Logan Kempf, Wylee Kippenbrock and Trey Wiseman are also candidates.
Schipp touted Abram Eckman as a contender to be the No. 1 runner for Jasper this year.
“He ran two or three for us last year, and just the work he’s put in already, it’s a lot of quality miles and quality workouts,” he said. “He’s definitely shown a lot of leadership with the team. So, I can see that definitely being him early on.”
He believes his runners will be driven to work that much harder now that they’ve seen they can make it to state.
Jasper’s girls almost made it to state themselves in 2019. The female runners made it to semistate, with junior Andi VanMeter qualifying as an individual and finishing 50th at state. The only runner the girls team lost to graduation was Mayson VanMeter.
“We have a solid group returning, and we’ve added a young lady named Ally Wigand, who’s going to be a sophomore, and she’s been running solid,” Schipp said. “We have a chance. The last couple years, I think we’ve been in the top eight or nine teams at the semistate with the top six advancing. So, we haven’t been too far out of it.”
He expects VanMeter to be the No. 1 runner on a girls team with good depth and a good chance of returning to state. Schipp believes Wigand has probably been the closest to his state qualifier from a year ago based on what he’s seen from her off the Strava app.
Schipp added seniors Kelsea Skorge and Amanda Schnell, who have also been working hard. Freshmen who could make varsity are Ari Wiseman, Kate Jerger and Emma Schipp.
“The boys definitely had more of a pack mentality last year, and that’s something I’d like to see out of the girls a little more. But the boys are going to have to find somebody that’s going to take those spots to have that pack this year,” he said. “It’s a little bit different, but also similar.”
Jasper will be put to the test early when it is scheduled to travel Aug. 15 to Terre Haute South for the first race of the season, followed by the Kentucky/Indiana Border Clash Aug. 18 and the Forest Park Invite Aug. 20, which the Jasper coach called more races than they’d like to have in that amount of time.
“We don’t want to start off getting anybody injured,” Schipp said. “It’s kind of up in the air what to expect. You have a lot of the girls team returning, but the boys team, it’s just a matter of who steps up and how tight of a pack they can run to see how we can finish, but I think we can definitely have strong showings in those meets.”
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