Western cross country standout Matt Grider had a race to remember Saturday.
Grider roared to victory in the Western Invitational at Oakbrook Valley, turning in a course-record time of 15:57 and becoming the first to crack 16:00. Runner-up Cooper Williams of West Lafayette tied the old record of 16:08.
“Matt looked great,” Western coach Gary Jewell said. “That’s a really good time for this course. Our course can be slow or it can be fast depending on how you run it. Matt went out conservatively, then hammered the middle part of the course in the second and third kilometers. He showed why he is one of the best in the state.”
No. 10-ranked West Lafayette won the meet with a score of 34. No. 9 Westfield (41), No. 17 Terre Haute South (124), Kokomo (155) and Western (160) rounded out the top five in a field of 15 complete teams. Tipton was ninth, Northwestern (314) was 12th, Maconaquah was 15th and Eastern had an incomplete team.
Former Western standout Kyle Walsh is Terre Haute South’s coach. Jewell noted Walsh’s squad ran without its top two runners.
Western’s other runners included Auston Davenport (26th, 17:44), Jacob Bradshaw (40th, 18:22), Caleb Maddox (45th, 18:28), Mark Boss (52nd, 18:44) and Riley Carter (53rd, 18:47).
“We ran better than we did last week when we were at Fountain Central, but we can be a lot better than this,” Jewell said. “Riley Carter had a little [asthma] problem with the humidity and it’s a little dusty out there. That badly affected his race. He is normally our No. 2 runner.”
Kokomo coach Ricke Stucker liked his squad’s showing. The Kats cut 12 seconds off their team time and reduced their gap time (1-5) by 39 seconds. Five of their top seven runners set personal-best times.
The Kats’ top five runners were: Jeremy Breedlove (ninth place, 16:54); Jordan Fivecoate (23rd, 17:38); Ethan Sharp (24th, 17:39); Max McHaney (48th, 18:35) and Jadyn Whitehead (56th, 18:49).