The Journal Gazette
Sunday, September 26, 2021 1:00 am

Confidence brings change in strategy, win for Viking

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

HUNTINGTON – With about a mile left in her race at the New Haven Classic at Huntington University on Saturday, Addison Wiley of Huntington North was running shoulder to shoulder with Homestead's Addison Knoblauch and Penn's Julie Smith.

And then she tried something she doesn't like to do until the last possible second: She took the lead. 

“That's very unlike myself ... I'm usually sit-and-kick,” said the Vikings senior, who won state titles in track with that strategy. “I was just feeling really strong and confident today. I wasn't necessarily feeling good in the legs, but mentally I really wanted it today. And I just needed this for my self-esteem.”

Wiley won the final of six high school races in 18:44.50, and Knoblauch was second in 18:49.00.

Carroll, led by fifth-place Taylor Hansen, won the AAA girls race (the division for the largest schools) with 64 points, while Penn was second with 76 and Homestead third with 85.

The morning rain was gone by the first race, but the runners still had to ford deep puddles covering entire sections of the course.

Runners kicked up so much mud that Homestead's Ethan Baitz said he wasn't racing for time in the boys AAA race. 

“I really wanted to start out slow, that's been my whole race strategy this season, I start farther back and work my way up,” Baitz said. “As I pass people, I build confidence, and that's what I did today.”

Baitz finished fourth in 16:18.40, behind the Goshen duo of Drew Hogan and Cole Johnston, who finished in 16:04.70 and 16:06.70, respectively, and Reese Kilbarger-Stumpff of Columbus North.

Columbus North claimed the division title with 56 points, followed by Goshen at 95 and Homestead in third with 142.

West Noble's Grant Flora won the boys AA race (for medium-sized schools) in 16:46.90.

“I knew I was going to come in with a chance to win, but especially on a course where we have a bunch of mud, you just never know,” said Flora, a junior. “It was a close race and the guys weren't far behind me, but I was happy to pull off the win.”

Bishop Dwenger won the AA boys race with 70 points, followed by Oak Hill in second and Leo in third.

The Leo girls won their AA race with 55 points, thanks in large part to Eden Norris, who took third place in 20:32.20, her sister Maya, about a second behind in fifth, and teammate Renee Beaubien in seventh. The Bishop Dwenger girls were second with 67 points. 

The ACAC dominated the girls small school race as Leslie Sprankles of Bluffton won in 20:33.90, McKenzie Sturwold of South Adams was second and Sydney McFarren of Southern Wells was third. 

“I felt a little nervous going into the race because of all the water and the hills, but I told myself I needed to be mentally tough and I really pushed through it,” Sprankles said.

Adams Central, led by fifth-place finisher Marissa Van De Weg, claimed the girls A title with 108 points, beating Eastbrook's 109 and Fremont's 112.

Monroe Central easily claimed the boys A title with 41 points, while Westview was second with 86 and Bishop Luers third with 95. Northeastern's Chase Cates won that race in 17:07.10, and Wyatt Neireiter of Churubusco was the top local finisher in sixth place in 18:00.60.

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