CULVER — Last year, the Eagles fell a heartbreaking four points shy of a regional championship on their home course. On Saturday, they wouldn’t be denied.
Led by Leopoldo Burguete’s winning time of 16:35, Culver Military Academy claimed the team championship with a score of 56, while Plymouth finished seventh with a score of 184, and Triton was 10th with a 254 team tally at the CMA Boys Cross Country Regional.
Culver Girls Academy finished second behind a strong Eastern squad with 50 points to the Lady Comets’ 35, while Plymouth earned a third straight New Prairie Semistate berth with a 122 for fourth place, and Triton’s Alexandra Kann placed 11th individually to go two for two in semistate berths in her sophomore year with the Trojans.
CMA’s top five all finished in the field’s top 25 en route to the title. Wes Hibbard placed sixth behind Burguete, Landrum Neer was 20th, Alejandro Velasco was 21st, and Harris Allen finished in 24th as the Eagles outscored second-place Rochester 56-65.
“We were expecting Logansport to be a little closer, but Rochester really ran well today,” said Culver Academies Head Cross Country Coach Michael Chastain. “It was a good battle with them. We had to move up some in that last K to really make sure that we had it.
“(Burguete) did a nice job, he took control in the last kilo, which was very, very nice, and he looked like he had more left in the tank, which he’ll definitely have to use next week at the semistate. I was extremely pleased with Wes Hibbard. Wes has not been running particularly well, and the first part especially, he looked really good. That helped us out significantly up there.”
Plymouth closed out its team season as Diego Ibarra placed 11th, Clay Corsbie was 43rd, Levi Schuler finished 45th, Brandon Brashere was 53rd, and Matthew Lee was 54th.
The Pilgrims may have fallen short of a team semistate berth and now bid goodbye to Lee, but fellow senior Ibarra, who has come on strong in the state tournament after struggling with a hip injury in the early going, was able to capture a New Prairie berth in his final go-round at regional.
“It’s frustrating because at the beginning of the season I felt strong; I was running really well, then the hip injury just brought me down,” said Ibarra. “I decided to keep my chin up, work harder toward it, and I’m finally getting back to where I want to be.”
“His goal when we sat down in May at the start of the season — six months here I’ve been working with these kids — he said to me ‘I want to make it to the semistate, even if my team doesn’t,’” said Plymouth coach Jami Holm. “He’s been injured, had some hip injury, had some terrible races, this has been a hard road for him. He’s finally starting to get to the point where he’s not feeling it at all. Very nervous for this race today. I think that helped a lot, and I’m absolutely ecstatic that he was 11th. To see one of my seniors make a goal like that in May and hit that goal now, October 15, absolutely amazing.”
Triton was paced by Trenton Cooper in 47th, while Nicholas Normann finished 51st, Trenton Stackhouse and Blake Johnson placed 59th and 60th, respectively, and Landon Kaufman rounded out the team score in 65th.
The team bids goodbye to just one senior in Nordmann and is looking forward to another good showing next year.
“The boys got through to regional for the fourth straight year,” said Triton coach Wes Rettinger. “That’s an accomplishment for a small school like us. Only one senior leaving. We should bring everybody back… and we also get Bryce Wannemacher back, he has a stress fracture in his foot, so he should be strong for us. Next year our goal is definitely going to be to get to semistate.”
In the girls race, meanwhile, Eastern twins Bethany and Brittany Neely went one-two, respectively, and four of the Comets’ top five placed in the top 10 to lead their team to victory over CGA, which fell short of a regional title after its sectional championship Tuesday.
Taylor Stuewe led segments of the race before finishing in fifth, while Olivia Martinez was eighth, Hannah Buggeln was 12th, Kacie Hermanson finished 13th, and Sarah Jamieson was 15th in a race that saw huge scoring gaps between Eastern and the Lady Eagles in the first two team spots and the rest of the field.
“We knew Eastern would be very good, and we know that they would place probably one-two and then maybe even one-two-three, and they came pretty close to it,” said Chastain. “The only hope we thought we had was to put a bunch of people in between their third and fourth and fourth and fifth runners. We did pretty well with that; they’re just better than we are.”
Plymouth got a gutsy performance from an ailing Deborah Anders, who finished 14th with a personal-best 20:48, while Libby Read and Meagan Fisher placed 22nd and 23rd, respectively, Shelby Harrell was 37th, and Darcy Fisher was 45th.
“We were fifth last year, and we were fourth this year, so I’m very, very happy with that,” said Holm. “I knew if we ran well we’d be able to do it. Deborah, God love her, had a great race. She’s very, very sick at the moment. She’s not technically diagnosed with mono yet; she goes to the doctor on Tuesday, but if I had to call it something, that’s what I’d call it.”
Kann clocked a 20:45 to follow up her eighth-place performance at sectional Tuesday with another top 15 performance to advance to New Prairie in 11th Saturday.
“She did exactly the same both years — eighth place in sectional, 11th place in regional,” said Rettinger. “Hopefully she’ll do better in semistate this year. She was overwhelmed with the speed last year. But it’s a good experience as a freshman to know what it’s like up there. I’m really looking forward to having her go up there.”
• CULVER ACADEMIES REGIONAL
(Top 5 teams and top 15 individuals advance to New Prairie Semistate)
TEAM SCORES: Culver Military Academy 56, Rochester 65, Northfield 81, Logansport 82, Oak Hill 103, Western 163, Plymouth 184, Northwestern 205, Kokomo 232, Triton 254
TOP 15 INDIVIDUALS: 1. Leopoldo Burguete (CMA) 16:35.8; 2. Caleb Augustus (N) 16:49.2; 3. Matt Grider (w) 16:55.8; 4. Matthew Fahs-Brown (M) 17:02.5; 5. Jon Flory (L) 17:19.6; 6. Wess Hibbard (CMA) 17:22.1; 7. Devin Tracy (N) 17:27.4; 8. Alex Gudeman (R) 17:30.7; 9. Tate Gellinger (L) 17:32.0; 10. Quinn Reinhart (Maconaquah) 17:32.3; 11. Diego Ibarra (P) 17:32.6; 12. Adam Schaaf (Eastern) 17:35.7; 13. Brandon Rife (R) 17:37.2; 14. Lewis Duke (Eastern) 17:37.8; 15. Dylan Bice (Pioneer) 17:37.8.
1. CMA (56): 1. Leopoldo Burguete 16:35, 6. Wes Hibbard 17:22, 20. Landrum Neer 17:45, 21. Alejandro Velasco 17:46, 24. Harris Allen 17:53
7. PLYMOUTH (182): 11. Diego Ibarra 17:32, 43. Clay Corsbie 18:24, 45. Levi Schuler 18:27, 53. Brandon Brashere 18:48, 54. Matthew Lee 18:53
10. TRITON (254): 47. Trenton Cooper 18:32, 51. Nicholas Nordmann 18:39, 59. Trenton Stackhouse 19:10, 60. Blake Johnson 19:12, 65. Landon Kaufman 19:40
TEAM SCORES: Eastern 35, Culver Girls Academy 50, Northfield 115, Plymouth 122, Rochester 156, Oak Hill 165, Western 188, Manchester 194, Logansport 197, Northwestern 203
TOP 15 INDIVIDUALS: 1. Bethany Neely (E) 19:13.9; 2. Brittany Neely (E) 19:37.3; 3. Jenna Halderman (N) 19:40.5; 4. Sarah Wagner (E) 19:52.3; 5. Taylor Stuewe (CGA) 19:54.5 ; 6. Shallen Lenhart (O) 20:06.0; 7. Anna Meyer (R) 20:08.8; 8. Olivia Martinez (CGA) 20:12.7; 9. Kelsi Custer (M) 20:17.7; 10. Avery Ewing (E) 20:22.4; 11. Alexandra Kann (Triton) 20:45.0; 12. Hannah Buggeln (CGA) 20:46.9; 13. Kacie Hermanson (CGA) 20:47.4; 14. Deborah Anders (P) 20:48.3; 15. Sarah Jamieson (CGA) 21:09.7.
2. CGA (50): 5. Taylor Stuewe 19:54, 8. Olivia Martinez 20:12, 12. Hannah Buggeln 20:46, 13. Kacie Hermanson 20:47, 15. Sarah Jamieson 21:09
4. PLYMOUTH (122): 14. Deborah Anders 20:48, 22. Libby Read 21:28, 23. Meagan Fisher 21:35, 37. Shelby Harrell 22:10, 45. Darcy Fisher 22:34
TRITON (NS): 11. Alexandra Kann 20:45