Times Sports Editor
JASONVILLE -- Shakamak High School played host to an early season cross country showdown between two of the Wabash Valley's top runners on Tuesday evening as Northview matched up with the Lakers, Owen Valley and Brown County.
The Knights' Conor Strain and Shakamak's Drew Gambill each qualified for the IHSAA State Finals last season and didn't disappoint in the five-kilometer battle.
Gambill went out with Strain in tow and was able to keep the Knights' senior a few strides behind him for much of the race over mostly flat terrain on a semi-wooded course at the high school.
Gambill, who was 89th in the state final, was able to pull away a slight bit down the long, final home stretch to win in 16:48 over Strain (16:57), who was 122nd in the finals.
Each of Northview's boys runners shaved plenty of seconds off their times from Saturday, which pleased coach Chad Smith.
"Everyone ran faster than they did on Saturday," Smith said. "I think we're at a point where we don't have a whole lot of kids on our team right now and starting the season off with such a big meet, meaning big schools like Franklin Central and Terre Haute South, I think some of the kids were a little overwhelmed last Saturday and they were more comfortable tonight. We ran a lot better as a whole and Conor (Strain) especially."
"Ryan South ran a PR by about a minute," Smith continued. "I'm proud of what he did and Patrick Durcholz, it's only his second race and once (Kyle) Yocom learns how to run a little bit with Ryan I think he can be up there."
Yocom raced to a ninth-place finish at Shakamak in a time of 20:07. He was followed by Durcholz in 11th (20:23) and Christian Swan in 19th in 23:05.
Despite the improved times, Brown County was still able to take the team victory, taking third through seventh-place to score 26 team points to edge the Knights' 48. Both Owen Valley and Shakamak had incomplete teams.
In the girls meet, Shakamak's Casey Fougerousse, who was a semi-state qualifier last season crossed the finish line in the top spot with a time of 21:47 and edged Northview's Shelby Sands, who had a strong run to second in 22:28.
The Knights clearly had a plan to work together in the race and did a fairly good job of executing it according to coach Ryand Tucker.
"Our plan coming in was to sit back in the first kilometer and get the back three, which is what happened on Saturday (at the Early Bird Invite) is we had three in the back and four up front, up with the rest of them," Tucker said. "Our goal was to close that gap a little bit so we sat back in the first K and after that we took off. It worked really well with Shelby and Alyssa (Conrad) and both of them dropped time from Saturday, which I was real impressed with."
Conrad came home in fourth-place in 22:36 followed by Nicole Nelson in sixth (24:20) and Corey Laue in seventh (24:36).
"Corey and Nicole, maybe it didn't work exactly, but they didn't really have anyone to chase down and they were kind of in the middle and didn't have much of a choice but to finish anywhere but where they were," Tucker said. "It worked really well with Tori (Rohrabaugh) and Maeghan, (Pilman). They both dropped about three minutes from Saturday and I was really pleased with that also."
Rohrabaugh placed 12th in 26:44 followed by Pilman in 14th with a time of 27:36. Eileen Stinnett crossed the line in 19th in 29:47 for the Knights.
Overall I was really pleased with their effort, we won the meet, which is a plus.
Together, the group won the meet with 31 points to Shakamak's 49 with Brown County in third with 67.
The Knights are back in action on Saturday when they travel to the Rushville Invite.
Boys team results: Brown County 26, Northview 48, Owen Valley Inc., Shakamak Inc.
1. Drew Gambill (SH) 16:48, 2. Conor Strain (Nv) 16:57, 3. Mike Dobson (BC) 17:25, 4. Dylan Allen (BC) 17:50, 5. Christian Ely (BC) 18:42, 6. Aiden Westscott (BC) 18:44, 7. Ryan South (Nv) 19:11, 8. Tony Gregory, 9. Kyle Yocom (Nv) 20:07, 10. Jack Petry (OV) 20:17
Other Northview: 11. Pat Durcholz, 20:23, 19. Christian Swan, 23:05
Other Shakamak: 17. Brock Powell, 22:57, 18. Dylan Phipps, 23:00, 20. Scott McNabb, 23:22
Girls team results: Northview 31, Shakamak 49, Brown County 67, Owen Valley Inc.
1. Casey Fougerousse (SH) 21:47, 2. Shelby Sands (Nv) 22:28, 3. Danielle Matsel (OV) 22:30, 4. Alyssa Conrad (Nv) 22:36, 5. Maeghan Pruitt (BC) 23:48, 6. Nicole Nelson (Nv) 24:20, 7. Corey Laue (Nv) 24:36, 8. Brooklyn Samm (SH) 25:14, 9. Megan Phipps (SH) 25:32, 10. Bethany Stewart (OV) 26:40
Other Northview: 12. Tori Rohrabaugh, 26:44, 14. Meaghan Pilman, 27:36, 19. Eileen Stinnett, 29:47
Other Shakamak: 15. Elise Miller, 27:59, 16. Cassandra Holdaway (SH) 28:08, 17. Alison Miller, 28:15, 21. Erica Enstrom, 33:32, 22. Sydney Winzapel, 43:48