Tireless Ranger junior leads rebound efforts

Ariana van den Akker/The Herald
Northeast Dubois runners Noah Schepers, left, Bryce Schepers, Jace Kahle and Seven Sermersheim huddled before Tuesday’s boys cross country sectional at Vincennes University Jasper Campus. The Jeeps earned fourth place while Jasper finished third and Tell City and Perry Central grabbed the top two spots, respectively. Forest Park was fifth and will join the Wildcats and Jeeps in Saturday’s regional at Crawford County.


Herald Sports Writer

JASPER — Ten minutes after Forest Park’s Trey Dooley finished his race at the sectional at Vincennes University Jasper Campus, he stood around the finish area, talking easily with teammates and parents, sweat across his face, but not panting. Around him, runners leaned on coaches and friends, faces white with exhaustion. Dooley didn’t look like someone who just belted out 3.1 miles in under 18 minutes.

“Running well just makes me feel better, for some reason,” he said with a shrug. “(It) makes me feel better about what I did and I don’t worry about how dead I am.”

He certainly had reason to feel good on Tuesday. After struggling during the bulk of the season with respiratory problems, Dooley finished second overall (17:41) in the field of 59 runners, leading the Rangers (113) to a fifth-place finish and a trip to Saturday’s regional at Crawford County. Tell City (52) unseated Perry Central (76) for the first time in seven years for the team title, Jasper (80) finished behind the Commodores at third and Northeast Dubois (92) finished fourth.  Heritage Hills (117) just missed the top five by four points and Southridge (177) finished seventh.

Perry Central’s Aaaron Pierrard finished first overall with a time of 17:25.

The Wildcats move on to the regional after a sixth-place finish ended the team’s season in 2012. This year, a 10th-place performance by Cale Kilian (18:10) and a group of runners that were able to score from deep in the roster ensured the Wildcats didn’t miss out. The four Wildcat runners after Kilian — Kyle Knies at 11th, Nolan Kiefer at 18th, Caleb Dosch at 19th and Donald Bough at 23rd — all finished in the top 25.

“It feels good to be moving on,” Jasper coach Kevin Schipp said. “We’ve been on that side of sixth quite a few times where you’re not moving on to regional, and they put a lot of time into it. And the good thing is, we’re young. So we look for improvement down the road in the long-term future.”

Kilian, a freshman, is the head of that young team and ran well against a strong field of runners — even while admiring the talent.

“It was hard to stay in the back and just watch them do what they do,” Kilian said. “It was kind of (enjoyable) to see them just full-out sprinting the whole time. That was pretty amazing.”

One of those people out front was Dooley, who was able to break away from a pack of about 13 runners on his second lap and pass Perry Central’s Bryce Lain, who finished third.

“I knew I had to work with Lain and stick with him,” Dooley said. “I figured at the last mile and a half I would work getting up these hills and getting Lain and hopefully (try) to catch Pierrard, but he had a good lead on me and he kept pushing.”

Senior Cody Flamion (18:03) was eighth for the Rangers, and the fifth-place finish keeps their season alive — something Dooley wanted for his senior teammate Sean Verkamp, who finished 27th.

Ariana van den Akker/The Herald
Forest Park's Trey Dooley ran through the forest during Tuesday's boys cross country sectional at Vincennes University Jasper Campus.

“Sean is our third runner and I know during practice he works his butt off,” Dooley said. “He runs with me ’cause Cody is usually at soccer and I think that’s helping him get up there. I’m glad ’cause it’s his senior year. I want to help him feel good about our team this year. We didn’t have a whole lot, but we did good with what we have.”

Northeast Dubois also featured two top-10 finishers in Justin Kahle (seventh) and Luke Kerstiens (ninth). Coach Vic Betz saw a team that ran a much smarter race collectively than two weeks ago in the Jasper Invitational at VUJC. Kahle in particular dropped more than a minute from his time in early October.

“I think they initially started out good and I think they all settled in,” Betz said. “I think you’ve got to be careful there not to exceed that threshold where you get your heart rate around 200 (beats per minute). … I don’t think anybody exceeded that, and as a result, we just ran a smoother race.

“Guys ran well from the get-go and just put their nose out there,” he added. “That’s what racing is all about.”

Heritage Hills senior Devon Merder (18:00) also saw a significant time drop, shaving 18 seconds from his time at the recent Jasper Invitational on his way to sixth place.

“Going into the first lap, you try to get that right pace, get the feel for the course, know where you’re going, try to get in the pack with the runners you’re eyeing for the race,” Merder said. “But coming around that second lap, that’s when you got to get a mental mindset of getting those runners you’re eyeing the whole race and that’s what I tried to do in the second lap. Kick it in and ... finish the race.”

A sixth-place finish ended the season for the majority of the Patriots, but, because of the new individual sectional advancing qualifications this season — the top 10 finishers from the teams outside the top five advance — Merder as well as Dalton Selvidge (13th), Logan Ayer (15th) and Chris Miller (41st) all moved on to Saturday’s regional as individuals. Coach Kurt Denning had glowing words for a team he said made strides from the beginning of the season.

“Overall we ran a heck of a race,” Denning said. “Forest Park was a spot ahead two weeks ago and they beat us by 70-some points and we were within four of them tonight. That was our goal, to qualify in the top five, and we failed to do that, but overall I felt we ran one heck of a race inside and out.”

Southridge also will send three runners to the regional. Chase Bland paced the Raiders with a 19:04, 21st-place finish and will be joined by teammates Louis Dubon (32nd) and Jayden Montgomery (33rd).

“That’s the first time I think Southridge has had boys advance to regional in I’m not sure how many years,” coach Leslie Denu said. “(I) couldn’t be happier with them.”

“Jayden really stepped it up and got right behind our second runner, Louis, so he did a great job,” she added.

Jasper, Forest Park and Northeast Dubois will join seven other teams on Saturday at Crawford County. For Dooley, coach Philip Wolf recognized the race as a return to form for his junior and a healthy sign moving forward.

“Trey ran an outstanding race today,” Wolf said. “I was proud of how he stepped up and pushed himself to the limit.

“He didn’t get distracted by where he was in the race at the beginning. He just stayed focused and ran his race.”

Herald Sports Editor Brendan Perkins contributed to this report.

Contact Joseph Fanelliat jfanelli@dcherald.com

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