By JEFF LAMPE
For The Weekly Post
ELMWOOD – Some decorated Elmwood-Brimfield cross country runners have spent fine careers without ever winning a race.
Not so Isaiah Hill. The senior ground his competition into submission Saturday to win his third straight race and, in the process, helped boost the E-B boys to a first-place finish at the Elmwood XC Invitational.
Hill responded to a challenge by Eureka’s Carson Lehman in the final mile by racing past his competitor up the hill alongside the lake at Maple Lane Country Club. Hill finished first in 15:14 – 20.7 seconds ahead of sophomore runnerup Elijah Teefey of Pleasant Plains and 27.6 seconds ahead of Lehman.
“(Lehman) was pushing that pace. I definitely wouldn’t have run as fast without him,” Hill said.
Neither the pace nor the warm weather seemed to bother Hill or his teammates, as E-B had five runners in the top 24 spots to finish with 63 points – one ahead of Eureka.
“Going into this, I said he we could get five kids in the 25 I was going to be really happy,” E-B Coach Gregg Meyers said. “I guess I have to be really happy.”
Other scoring runners for E-B were junior Reed Florey (12th, 16:18), junior Mika Nelson (14th, 16:20), sophomore Aiden Faulkner (17th, 16:25) and senior L.J. Higgs (24th, 16:41).
All those strong finishes came despite running 12 miles in practice on Friday.
“Coach likes to call October ‘Rocktober’ and that’s really what it is,” Hill said. “We’re really going to be picking up the practices and running a little bit less distance but running a little more intense. Hopefully that extra work will gear us up for the postseason.”
Elmwood runs at Amboy’s Columbus Day Invite on Monday and regionals are Oct. 21 at Donovan Park in Peoria.
Princeville also had two strong boys finishers lead its seventh-place team effort. Senior Joey Bosch was 10th in 16:11 and junior Tucker Sennett was 13th in 16:19.
The E-B girls finished fourth behind senior Addie Symonds’ sixth-place finish in 19:12. Eureka was first with 78 points, ahead of Knoxville (109), Delavan (140) and E-B (144).
“That was (Symonds’) season-best time on a warm morning. Freshman Taylor Forney also had a strong showing, just missing out on breaking 20 minutes with her season-best time,” Coach Kyle Anderson said.
“We’ve shown we can be competitive with some of the top teams in our sectional but we still need to improve to achieve our goals.”
Other scoring runners for E-B were junior Olivia Stage (31st, 20:28) and sophomores Addy Turner (32nd, 20:31) and Natalie Babcock (66th, 21:48).
“The calendar just turned to October, which means the intensity level is going to rise at practices,” Anderson said. “We talked as a team about doing all the little things and how that is going to be the difference-maker as we get to the postseason. Managing stressors and taking care of our health will be of utmost importance heading forward.”
Princeville placed 10th as a team and was led by freshman Bethany Sennett (17th, 19:40), junior Alyvia Cowser (51st, 21:05) and freshman Sahara Streitmatter (60th, 21:25).
Another freshman also posted a very strong race. Stark County’s Dusti Smith (18:28) led for the first mile before yielding to race winner Meika Bender of Eureka, who finished in 18:05.
By JEFF LAMPE