AKRON – On a morning that wasn’t ideal in any capacity for running, the top two runners in the Three Rivers Conference continued to set the standard. Manchester’s Rae Ann Bedke and Rochester’s Tommy Rohr were elite, crushing their respective fields for individual titles, and both leading their teams to championships.
Bedke led the girls race virtually from start to finish, exploding from the starting line and taking the captain’s chair from about 25 meters until she finished the 5,000 meters at 19:22. Bedke seemed to be miles ahead of runner-up Kelsey Tyler of Rochester, who came home at a respectable 19:46 on the waterlogged Valley course.
A bit of separation occurred as the leaders broke away from one another, with Nicky Scher of North Miami taking third (20:09), Alyssa McKillip of Northfield in fourth (20:17) and Morgan Farr of Southwood rounding out the top five (20:24).
Manchester took the team title, with Jaelyn Webb placing sixth (20:32), Tahnee Fuentes taking a key 10th place (20:50) to break up a string of Maconaquah runners, and Clara Burdette (18, 21:47) and Katie Barker (25, 22:14) making up its four and five. Fuentes’ sprint in the final 300 meters, along with Barker beating Maconaquah’s Bailey Hays at the finish line, were the difference as the Squires beat the Braves 60-61.
Rochester, meanwhile, made a stake to claim the title, just missing out at 62 points. It’s top five runners of Tyler, Sarah Rohr (13, 21:27), Mallory Hiatt (14, 21:30), Rachel Ricketts (16, 21:34) and Paige Bode (17, 21:39) had a better cumulative collection, but didn’t get a second runner into the top 10 to slice into the standings margins.
Southwood (92), Northfield (117), Whitko (175), Wabash (191), North Miami (194) and Tippecanoe Valley (241) rounded out the team standings.
Whitko finally got its team all healthy and available on the same day, putting together a sixth-place finish. Sarah Walters took 21st place to lead the Wildcats at 22:05. Hanna Yohe finished 24th at 22:13, and was trailed by Amanda Leppek (36, 23:48), Elizabeth Foutz (45, 25:14), Manon Sonneville (49, 26:29) and Angel Moyer (53, 27:56).
Tippecanoe Valley, running short-handed without an injured Haley Hoover, had Claudia Ramos lead the team with a 40th-place run of 24:41. Valeria Jimenez (42, 24:56), Alyssa Bell (50, 26:44), Abbi Miller (54, 27:57), Lauren Sponseller (55, 27:58) and Tori Miller (58, 34:54) made up the green and gold.
Rohr and teammate Harrison Korkos laid claim to the honors in the boys race, helping the Zebras to a big win in the team standings. Rohr, much like Bedke in the downpour, ran like it was 72 and sunny, unphased by the terrible conditions. A full 32 seconds ahead of Korkos, Rohr’s 16:16 was impressive given the worn and mud-riddled boys varsity course was the fourth series of the day following two middle school races plus the varsity girls. Korkos came in at 16:48, well ahead of Dereck Vogel’s 17:12 to lead Wabash.
Damek O’Dell (5, 17:36), Cody Dennis (7, 17:52) and Jeffrey Ruppert (17, 18:50) gave Rochester its scoring quintet, posting a 32 to runner-up Wabash’s 52.
Manchester’s Drew Jones helped the Squires to a fourth-place team standing, running 17:57 to finish eighth overall.
Tippecanoe Valley was eighth in the team standings, with Justin Peconga the top Viking with a 32nd place time of 19:49. Jared Mikel (39, 20:22), Mitchell Smith (42, 20:45), Colt Demske (43, 20:46) and Evan Lowman (50, 21:58) were the top five for Tippecanoe Valley.
Whitko had just four runners, which left the Wildcats out of the team standings. Logan Busz led the team with a time of 18:47, followed by Zack Freel (20:02), Ezra Miller (20:29) and Caden Compton (24:15).
Maconaquah (75), Manchester (95), Southwood (149), North Miami (159), Peru (166) and Tippecanoe Valley (206) completed the team grid.
Sectionals for the teams will take place next Saturday across the state of Indiana. Whitko will run at Fort Wayne Northrop while Tippecanoe Valley, Rochester and Manchester will compete at Culver Academy.