HITTING THE TRAILS: Seymour, Brownstown Central cross-country teams open season at Freeman Field

The Seymour girls and Jennings County boys’ cross-country teams dominated the Seymour Invitational, held Thursday at Freeman Field.

Seymour’s Ashton Chase and Makenna Sunbury finished 1-3 in the girls’ race with times of 21-minutes, 15-seconds and 22:25, as the Owls scored 21 points. Jennings County was second with 49, and Brownstown Central was third with 59 points.

This is the second time Chase has won the Invitational (also won in 2015), and Coach Spencer Sunbury said this is at least fourth straight time his team has won the event. The meet was cancelled last year.

Next for the Owls was Lillian Sunbury, fourth at 23:05, and Grace Rennekamp fifth at 23:38. Seymour had five runners on the top eight as Samantha Jacobi was eighth, with a time of 24:43.

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“It was what I was hoping,” coach Sunbury said. “Going into this season ,we’ve got a lot of new faces, a lot of young faces, and I’m still trying to figure out how they respond to things and what to expect from them.

“It was a tough course today to get a true reading, and I got a true reading. There were a lot of tough girls out there running. I like how our spots are filling in. We’re working on getting some runners up there. Ashton and Makenna don’t want to be out there all by themselves.

“I was really looking at how my third-through-seventh ran, and was really happy with what I saw out of my top five. It was a whole team effort and the girls are excited to see what they can do this season.”

Leading the Brownstown girls was Kaelyn Johnson, who finished sixth at 23:43.

 “Kaelyn ran a really good race,” BC girls coach Maria Conklin said. “Her goal was to be in the top five and she was really close to that. It’s her senior year and I’m hoping for some really fast times. She worked her tail off this summer so I’m really excited what’s going to happen there.

“Shauna (Drake, 11th 25:09), Claire (Poulton, 13th 25:37) and Grace (Garland, 14th 25:37) kind of packed together. They were a nice 2-3-4 for us. I think on a dry course, and once the season progresses we’re going to have a really nice group there, and Kylee Wischmeier stepped up and moved into No. 5 tonight. That was really big for us.”

The Jennings County boys placed 1-2-5-6-8 for a team score of 22. Austin was second with 42 points and the Owls were third with 78. Brownstown Central was fourth with 144.

Jennings’ Alex Hendrix placed first individually with a time of 17:49. Luke Plummer led the Owls by finishing seventh at 18:33.

Owls coach Randy Fife was hoping for a better team effort.

“I told them no pressure even though it was our invitational,” Fife said. “We just want to run hard, compete, enjoy the environment. It’s raining and we’ve got a lot of mud out there in the woods, and some sloppy parts on the course. I told them to have fun and see what happens.

“The times were slow but even the Jennings County and Austin runners’ times were not good. Nobody was worried about a time today. It’s all about effort and we had some guys give good effort and some guys that didn’t give good effort and we’ll have to have a talk about that.

“No matter what place you’re running you’ve got to have 100 percent effort, and we didn’t have that, so it’s a little disappointing. It’s a big team with a lot of young runners, and they don’t understand all that yet and a process for them to learn when meet day comes we go at it.”

A total of 22 Seymour runners competed, and there were 95 runners in the boys’ race and 56 in the girls’ race.

Leading the Brownstown boys was Mason Kellogg, who was 25th at 20:29.

 “Coming in I was hoping for some good times,” BC boys Derrick Koch said. “I had to kind of scratch the times today just because of the shape of the course. Overall, effort wise we’ve been working real hard all summer.

“I’m really happy with where the guys are as far as their work ethic, so by the end of the season I think I’ll have them in good shape. That’s what my hope is because they’re going to keep working hard and I can see that happening. Today they worked hard, the times just where we hoped they would be.”

Seymour and Brownstown will run Monday at Bedford North Lawrence.