The yearly challenge of the New Prairie Invitational beckoned several local cross country squads Saturday, with Western’s boys squad posting a strong showing.
The invite has three divisions for varsity squads and Western took sixth in the Class 2A race, which had 30 complete teams and two incomplete teams. Running in that same division, Eastern was 16th and Northwestern 26th.
For Western, Brayden Curnutt finished 19th in 17:38, followed by Joseph Packard (29th, 17:49), Pete Bradshaw (37th, 18:08), Taylor Rathbun (57th, 18:42), and Zac Cline (83rd, 19:20).
Conditions were hot, humid and windy, and Western coach Gary Jewell said that cost his runners on average approximately 30 seconds.
Jewell said the conditions were unpleasant “but that’s our best finish we’ve ever had as a team since 2013. There were a couple teams that we beat that were ranked ahead of us in the power poll, which was nice, but I think we could have been a little bit better. I think we gave up some points through some areas. Overall we did pretty well.”
Brayden Richmond led Eastern in 10th place (17:15), followed by Caleb Vogl (47th, 18:23), Owen Taylor (106th, 19:52), Porter Brovont (125th, 20:25), and Bradie Porter (176th, 21:47).
“Really proud of the way they fought through their race,” Eastern coach Ben Cox said. “Good competition and a challenging course and I think the guys, they were racing the kids they needed to race and held their own against them.”
Isaiah Kanable led Northwestern, taking 81st in 19:15, followed by Caleb Champion (127th, 20:26), Caden Lechner (129th, 20:27), Gunnar LaShure (142, 20:47), and Jace Cournoyer (154th, 21:04).
“We went into this race trying to get experience,” NW coach Dave Stevens said. “A lot of my boys have never run at New Prairie. It’s a very unique race. Our 1-to-5 gap [first runner to fifth runner] was the best we’ve had all year, so once again they’re starting to pack up at the top which is a good thing.
“We’re trying to close the gap between a couple of teams so we can get a shot at that fifth spot at the sectional.”
Maconaquah finished in ninth place in the 2A race. Rochester was the overall winner with 115, followed by Morgan Township (127), and Culver Academies (129).
The Braves were led by Karli Miller with an 18th-place finish in 21:19. Miller was followed by Haley Salinas (33rd, 22:10), Zoe Seward (36th, 22:17), Rachel Eby (78th, 23:53) and Abby Heath (108th, 25:06). Miller, Salinas and Seward all received awards for placing in the top 40.
Eastern finished 16th in the 2A race and Northwestern was 17th.
Ella Kantz led Eastern, finishing 30th in 22:02, followed by Victoria Leeder (63rd, 23:15), Emily Slaughter (90th, 24:10), Gracie McClain (129th, 25:54), and Alivia Salkie (142nd, 26:49).
“They really ran with some determination,” Eastern coach Cox said. “A really strong field and kind of a tough day to run, but they really competed well and found the kids they needed to compete with.”
Lauren Longshore led the Purple Tigers in 12th in 20:59, followed by Ella Deck (48th, 22:45), Katelyn Saul (125th, 25:48), Vanessa Mueller (130th, 25:55), and Kaylynne Fernandes (148th, 26:42).
“Lauren just ran an outstanding race,” NW coach Stevens said. “The rest of the girls all ran well considering the majority of my team it was the fisrt time they’ve ever ran at New Prairie.
“Overall we closed the gap on a few teams we’re going to race against at sectional for potential to move on [from the sectional to the regional], so I was really proud of that. What we call our 1-to-5 gap … was the smallest it’s been all year.”
Kokomo beat Lafayette Jeff and Logansport on Saturday to take fifth in the North Central Conference tourney.
The Kats (11-7) had a bye through Saturday’s first round, then beat Jeff 3-2 after Jeff had played in the opening round. The Kats swept the singles points with No. 1 player Jon Callane winning 6-2, 6-2, No. 2 player Pablo Ketterer winning 6-4, 6-4, and No. 3 player Nathanael Elkin winning 6-2, 6-3.
“Having the bye and playing against a team that’s already played a match is dangerous,” Kokomo coach Shawn Flanary said. “We don’t get to warm up because we’re waiting for courts and I felt like we came out a little flat, especially doubles. Couldn’t play catch-up.”
Kokomo then beat Logan 5-0 in the fifth-place match. Callane won 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 singles and Pablo Ketterer won 6-1, 6-0 at No. 2. Jackson Richards took the No. 3 singles match and won 6-4, 7-6 (4). The team of Ty Lauderbaugh and Rajon Sellers won the No. 1 doubles match 6-2, 6-4, and the team of Taylor Duncan and Elkin won the No. 2 doubles match 7-5, 6-4.
“In the finals I thought they played really well, had two quality wins in the doubles spots and the singles played really well – they kept their quality high and maintained it all day.”
Harrison was the league champion.
Both Eastern and Taylor came away with individual champions in the HHC touranment.
Eastern's No. 2 singles player Josh Rush defeated an opponent from Delphi in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 10-8. Rush then beat a Rossville opponent 6-0, 6-2 for the championship.
"I was so proud of [Rush]," Eastern coach Tricia Anderson said. "He didn't start out well in the Delphi match, and was making unforced errors, but he's the type of kid who you know the match isn't over until the last point played. He fought to the end, and it payed off for him.'
The Comets' No. 1 singles player Matt Harrison defeated Taylor's Ethan Klepinger 6-0, 6-0, before losing to a Rossville opponent.
Taylor's No. 3 singles player Nathan Keene defeated Rossville's Greg Williams 6-3, 6-6, 9-7. In the championship match, Keene defeated Delphi's David Hyman 6-3, 5-7, 10-6.
The Titans' No. 2 singles player Kendall Lanning beat Carroll's Trent Myers 6-2, 6-3 in the first round, but lost in the next round.
"[I am] excited to leave the tournament with a conference champion and continue to see significant improvement among the rest of the boys," Taylor coach Marcia Marler said.
Eastern came out champions of the invite by defeating Manchester (25-24, 25-23), North Miami (25-14, 25-9), and Eastbrook (25-16, 25-15).
Loralei Evans led Eastern with 21 serve receptions, 19 kills, 13 digs and five blocks. Allie Bratcher added 22 kills, and McKenzie Copper had 20 kills. Emma Sandlin came up with 67 assists and 26 service points, including five aces. Grace Kuhlman came up with 40 serve receptions and 30 digs, and Kate Harrison had 28 service points and seven kills.
"Great job by all the girls," Eastern coach Missy Mavrick said. "[Kuhlman] and Kaylee [Weeks] did a nice job covering and coming up with some big digs for us. [Evans], [Bratcher] and [Copper] all three had solid day offensively."
WESTERN 4, EASTERN 2
The Panthers (12-0) continued their unbeaten run with a victory at Eastern. Noah Stranahan scored twice, Nate Tuchscherer had a goal and an assist, and Lucas Pitzer scored. John Maher and Nolen Kessler added assists and Adam Barber had four saves.
“It was a well-played game,” Western coach Mike Roe said. “Eastern brought their A game. They played very well, they possessed the ball a significant amount of time. It was probably a 50-50 split between the teams. I thought we played a nice game. The boys toughed it out. Saturday morning games are not easy.”
Luke Swartzendruber and Lance VanMatre scored for Eastern (3-6-1). Kyle McCreary had eight saves.
Eastern coach John VanMatre said the Comets “played amazing. It was how we should have been playing all season if we didn’t have all the injuries. We just gelled. Even the two games [which Eastern won] earlier in the week we didn’t play this well, and we came out and played amazing [Saturday], just couldn’t get the win.”
MARION 4, KOKOMO 1
Kieran Morrison pounced on a loose ball to pull the Kats even in the second half, but Marion hit the net three times after that to win the non-division matchup of North Central Conference rivals.
Joey McConnell had six saves for the Kats (2-7-1).
“My keeper – for both my JV and varsity teams – really kept the game close for a while. We were better organized defensively in the first half and really frustrated them. It took them a while to break through and score a goal,” Kokomo coach Aaron Blessing said. Marion led 1-0 at halftime. Kokomo tied the game but defensive errors took a toll after that. “Two of the four goals were goals we should not have given away, or [should have] defended better.”
MAC 4, KOKOMO 2
Jolee Holland scored four times for the Braves while Madelynn Lorenz and Lete Robinson each had an assist.