Shorthanded Pirates look great in grabbing third at NCT cross country invite

Loads of area teams littered the starting line during the Newcomerstown Cross Country Invitational Saturday, Sept. 3, but when it came down to the finish line, none of them could compete with state power Fredericktown. The Freddies edge Caldwell 50-56, with third place Garaway doing a great job of chasing despite not having its three top runners.

Missing from action were Austin Miller, B.J. Schwartz and Andrew West, so the showing for the Pirates was a very good effort considering.

“We will look like a completely different team by the end of the year, but we have some capable runners aside form those three who can compete well,” said Garaway coach Chuck Zobel.

The Pirates earned third with 86 points, and got a couple of big-time efforts from some emerging runners.

The first was Nathan Wicker, a senior who is trying to prove he can run with the top tier. Wicker finished seventh, reeling off a 17:07.77 to grab a medal.
“I didn’t really know what to expect, I just wanted to go out and perform,” said Wicker of his finish. “That’s a PR for me.”

Wicker said that with the three top runners all absent, it was exciting to see some of the other runners step up and deliver as the Pirates work toward extending their string of state meet appearances to five in a row.

Perhaps the biggest gains on the day belonged to Garaway junior Braden Shupe. Shupe placed 11th in 17:28. 43, an effort that earning him a medal. His time was over one minute below his prior best, and the run was an exciting one for Shupe.

“I didn’t expect that,” said Shupe. “I guess it is more just good offseason preparation.”

Now that he has put together that low of a time, Shupe said his expectations just took a major leap forward.

I think considering we were missing three top runners, we performed very well as a team today,” said Shupe. “It definitely exceeded my expectations.”

Two other Pirates had top 20 finishes in the field of 107 runners. Placing 18th was Julian Shrock (17:38), while freshman Noah Wentworth took 20th (17:46).

While Hiland’s Hunter Yoder, who placed third in the Hawks’ only other invitational last week, didn’t find the place he wanted, the time certainly was satisfying for the senior who grabbed an eighth-place finish.

“You can’t ever complain when you post a PR,” said Yoder. “A got mine by four seconds. On a flat course like this, you always try to look for PRs.”

Yoder continues to lower his time in hopes of dethroning Todd Weaver’s 17:09. Collin Hochstetler p[laced 34th (18:48), Daniel Mast was 37th (19:04), Kristian Stocksdale was 39th (19:04) and Kyle Dunn was 44th (19:15).

“I feel like I am where I want to be. I am trying to go out 10th or so and sit there, then see what I can do over the last mile. I have set some pretty lofty goals for this year. The higher the goal, the sweeter it will be when you reach them.”

That helped the Hawks place ninth overall in the 12-team field.

Tyler Kuhns, a Hiland freshman, ran a 19:15, good for 43rd place overall. Matt Troyer placed 60th (20:16) and Alijah Chupp was 64th (20:25). Alex Ventura came in 75th (21:16) for the Hawks.

“We had our guys run pretty well overall,” said Hiland coach Mark Fowler. “We set a couple of PRs and Hunter continues to run very well.”

Sam Carroll of Strasburg was the Tiger’s top place, running 55th (19:56), while Malvern’s Brandon Patterson earned a medal for his ninth place effort of 17:25.

Dalton, which placed 10th as a team, was led by freshman Mason Kutz, who finished 21st (17:48). Teammates Leo Soehnlen (19:15), Alex Mason (19:41) and Nathan Mumford (19:48) finished 45th, 52nd and 53rd, respectively. Ridgewood was paced by Fred Doberstein’s 42nd place effort of 19:10.

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