2017 Defiance Early Bird Open Recap

2017 Defiance Girls TJ
The 2017 Varsity Girls XC team pays tribute to late Athletic Director TJ Rupp at the Defiance Early Bird Open

Recap: You really never know what to expect in the first meet of the year, and this kickoff to the 2017 season was no exception. The Viking Cross Country program came into Defiance with the largest team in recent memory: 35 runners between high school and middle school, including an impressive 16 high school boys. This first meet is always a mixed bag, not only because it’s a challenging course but because it’s so often the first race many of these athletes have ever run. Some runners do surprisingly well, while others turn in times that don’t really reflect their current abilities. Factors behind this can vary from the type of course, to how much they’ve been running over the summer, to just simple inexperience. At the end of the day, it’s just a single race; a benchmark at the start of a long season.

The high school boys kicked off the day with a strong showing, improving on last year’s 16th place team finish out of 17 teams with a 15th place finish out of 20 teams. These results are more impressive when considering the field was much faster and more competitive this year, and the Viking men dropped their top five average from 21:00 to 19:50. The Vikings were led this year by newcomer sophomore Kyle Bowser, followed closely by returning freshman record holder Ben Schwan. Continuing the youth movement on this team were sophomores Alex Majewski and Chandler Ruetz, with new runner Kevin Crisp and veterans Augie Tipping and team captain Tom Pollard rounding out the top seven. Of the nine other runners in the boys race, five were running their first ever high school 5k and six set personal bests.

The high school girls followed up with a very impressive effort, improving from ninth out of 18 teams to eighth out of 19 teams. Junior Sarah Schwan led the Lady Vikes with an eigth place finish in 20:13, taking a remarkable 1:08 off her previous personal best and school record set at last year’s district meet. Kennedy Keller turned in a new freshman record of 21:09 with her 22nd place finish. After missing all of last season with a knee injury, senior Grace Bryson returned to the course already showing the form from late in her 2015 season. Trinity Welch, team captain Katie Fritsch, and Ashley Garlick…all seniors…worked with junior Alexis McCormick to bring the Lady Vikes to within just a few points of rival Archbold, giving a preview of some exciting competition in the coming weeks.

Here are the results for the High School:

Last Name First Name Finish Place
Bowser Kyle 18:45 56
Schwan Ben 18:58 67
Majewski Alex 20:13 125
Ruetz Chandler 20:22 137
Crisp Kevin 20:52 150
Tipping Augie 20:55 153
Pollard Thomas 21:14 165
Smith Kyle 21:15 167
Donnald Drew 21:24 171
Pennington Evan 21:33 180
Hartzell Chris 23:27 215
Rhodus Gavin 23:25 216
Peete Kyle 23:52 220
Hassen Nick 23:56 222
Utz Ashton 25:07 235
Simon Pete DQ
Schwan Sarah 20:13 8
Keller Kennedy 21:09 22
Bryson Grace 23:25 64
Welch Trinity 24:53:00 99
Fritsch Katie 25:54:00 129
Garlick Ashley 26:00:00 133
McCormick Alexis 30:15:00 175

For the middle school runners, this meet was a whole new experience. They had their first meet at the Lake Invitational just two days before on a very flat course that provided a great introduction to competitive running, but only three of the twelve (Owen, Jolie and Kayla) had run at Defiance before and experienced the hills and trails common to cross country. Kayla’s experience served her well as she moved up from tenth place at the mile to pass two runners in the final 200 meters on her way to winning the middle school girls race. Newcomers Jocelyn Schuster and Emma Majewski ran well as a duo, coming in close together. Lindy, Jolie, Izzy and Trinity combined to bring the Viking girls an impressive ninth place team finish (ahead of both the Archbold and Wauseon teams).

The middle school boys were led by seventh grader Anderson Tipping with a solid performance. Isaac Overfield and Owen Bryson again worked together to come in in close succession, followed by Carson LeRoux and Brayden Bull. Again, this was a short turnaround and a very challenging course compared to the Lake meet just two days prior. The boys ran better than their 15th place finish would seem to indicate, and we look forward to seeing them compete at Archbold.

Here are the results for the Middle School:

Last Name First Name Finish Place
Gleckler Kayla 14:08 1
Schuster Jocelyn 16:22 36
Majewski Emma 16:29 43
Williamson Lindy 18:21 77
Huffman Jolie 19:20 90
Barkhimer Izzy 20:20 98
Clampet Trinity 20:49 102
Tipping Anderson 14:47 67
Overfield Isaac 16:58 124
Bryson Owen 17:05 125
LeRoux Carson 18:07 133
Bull Brayden 26:43 151

There were a lot of great object lessons in this meet. A few important points can be seen in the finishes of Sarah and Kayla in particular. First, Kayla’s time was nearly minute slower than the Thursday race, a reminder that it’s not always about the time, especially on difficult courses. You run the same course as your competition, and the competitive outcome depends ultimately on place not time. There were actually relatively few PRs set at this meet by experienced runners because it’s not a traditionally fast course. Sarah was an exception to this though; she did focus on place over time, but in so doing actually took an incredible amount of time off her PR. Again, each runner responds differently to each race based on the type of course, where they are in their training cycle, what type of training they’ve done, and several other factors. We train to peak in October, so each race up until that point simply provides lessons and cumulative fitness in support of that plan. This was an excellent first step, and the coaches are excited to see where this season takes us.

-Coach Schwan

Full Event Results are available on Baumspage.

Up Next: The high school travels to Otsego this weekend, while the middle school has the weekend off.  It’s also Fulton County Fair weekend, so good luck to the many Viking runners participating in the fair!

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