NAPPANEE – It’s very early to tell much of anything in the cross country season, but small indicators were ever-present all over the Stauffer Park course Tuesday night.
Wawasee senior Adam Doll made a huge statement by running away with the boys race against foes from host NorthWood, Fairfield and Bremen in timing in at 17:24 for the boys win while a pair of Lady Warrior freshmen took second and third in the girls race.
Wawasee earned three wins on each side, with the boys edging Fairfield, 27-31, and crushing NorthWood, 17-45, and Bremen, 15-50. The Wawasee girls needed every place to count in scooting by Fairfield, 27-28, while getting past Bremen, 23-33, and NorthWood, 16-45.
Doll wasn’t leading halfway through the race as runners from Bremen and Fairfield held about a 20-foot lead heading to the apex of the giant hill on the final 500 meters of the course. Doll, who was bunched with a large group of Wawasee runners approaching the hill, broke free and left the hill in first place. From there, no contest as Doll finished without opposition.
“I thought Adam had a good race, a very controlled race,” said Wawasee head coach Doug Slabaugh. “He was in control the whole time. It was a nice run for him. This is about the time I expected from him. Historically, this is a slower course, but I thought he had a good race.
Wawasee’s pack of runners also impressed Slabaugh, led by Zach Cockrill (18:15), Austin Yoder (18:16), Austin Krizman (18:30) and Jaxon Bame (18:31).
“There is a lot of room to improve,” Slabaugh said, quelling results from Tuesday as definite measures of success. “In practice, a lot of the kids are right there with each other. We just need to translate it a little more in the race. But this is the first one, so there is a lot of room to improve. Get the nerves out a little bit.”
The girls race had Bremen’s Brooke Bahr show the same form Doll had in the boys race, but didn’t need a big push to break away. Bahr commanded the race and won with a time of 21:38.
But as impressive was the character shown by Wawasee freshmen Bridgette Yoder, who ran in the second place position for most of the race and finished in the same place, timing 22:21. Teammate Molly Swartz, who maneuvered with several runners for a good portion of the race, gasped home in third at 22:42, outwilling Fairfield’s Taylor Stidman in the final 20 meters by ten seconds.
“I wasn’t really surprised by Bridgette,” stated Slabaugh. “Bridgette works very hard and I know she has the ability to run like she did today. She seemed very composed and ready to go today. On any given day, I think we have a couple girls who can do that.”
Wawasee junior Courtney Linnemeier, coming off an All-Northern Lakes Conference season last fall, didn’t show the speedy form but still managed eighth place at 23:17 while freshman Delanie Bame was right behind Linnemeier three seconds off the pace. Linnemeier’s classmate Breanna Robinson, also an All-NLC performer last fall, did not race Tuesday because of offseason practice requirements. Robinson should be available when Wawasee next steps to the starting line Aug. 31 for the Prairie Heights Invitational. The boys will also race at Prairie Heights as its next race.
“Today was a nice low key meet to get the first-day jitters out and get some experience,” Slabaugh said. “It’s a nice little indicator. This rewards the kids for working hard. I expect to see us have a good team effort at Prairie Heights. We are going to go out and run as a team there.”