Seymour boys, Ratliff brothers advance to semistate

COLUMBUS — When it comes to fall planning, the Proffer family is occupied.

And Seymour boys cross-country coach Randy Fife wants to make sure mom, dad and all of the relatives know the team schedule.

“No family reunions,” Fife said.

That’s because most of the Owls team is connected, not through the kinship of sharing hard workouts, but as blood relations.

On Saturday when Seymour placed fifth at the IHSAA regional at Ceraland Park, three of the seven runners were brothers Michael, Wes and Will, aided and abetted by cousin Sam Rockey.

The group’s performance – highlighted by No. 1 runner Jude Bane’s ninth-place finish – propelled Seymour ahead to this coming Saturday’s semistate race at Brown County. At this time of the season, as leaves fall and crunch underfoot, running well means the opportunity to run again.

Powerhouse Columbus North dominated the race by taking the top five individual places, six of seven, and recording a perfect low score of 15. Seymour totaled 127 points, just behind Brown County.

Most runners have their personal best times tattooed on their brains. Bane, a junior, completed the 5-kilometer course on a crisp, clear morning in 16 minutes, 26 seconds. Sounded like a new PR, but maybe not.

“It was within about a quarter of a second,” Bane said.

Give or take.

“Next week,” he said of the goal of going even faster.

The Owls are happy there is a next week since only five teams advance. Bane went out hard but cautiously and had energy in reserve to charge late and pick off a runner or two.

“I started out a little bit slower than usual,” he said, trying to gauge the pace.

Bane was virtually surrounded by members of the same clan. Michael Proffer, the only senior among the top seven Owls, ran 16:55 and was second for the team in 17th.

“It felt very competitive,” Proffer said. “I felt great. I did better than I expected. I started slowly at the start and saved energy.”

Proffer said the season has been a bit strange for him. He ran up to 20 seconds faster last year but is placing higher this year. He’ll take it. The situation also is different because of two other Proffers, freshmen Wes 18:27 and Will 18:57, and Rockey 17:58 making running for the school such an intimate family affair.

“We’re most of the varsity,” Michael said.

Wes said the atmosphere and the cool weather in the 50s helped make for grand running, and he thought he handled the circumstances well.

“It was really pretty good,” he said of his day.

Crothersville had one runner who qualified from sectional in Dirk Crater. The freshman has rapidly dropped time in recent races, and Saturday, his 52nd place out of the 89 race starters was recorded by clocking 18:43.

The other full Jackson County team was Brownstown Central, placing seventh. With six underclassmen among the seven scorers, the Braves did not advance to semistate but pleased coach Derrick Koch.

“I was pretty excited about that,” Koch said of the overall showing. “It turned out to be perfect weather.”

Brownstown’s top two finishers were freshman twins Chance and Shane Ratliff. Even though the Braves didn’t advance as a team, the brothers both advanced as individuals. Usually, just about the only way to tell them apart is the minor difference in the style of their glasses since they often post similar times, too.

However, Saturday, Chance got the drop on his brother and now has a faster personal record of 17:58 (32nd place) to 18:19 (38th place). Chance surprised himself.

“I broke 18, which I didn’t expect,” he said. “I felt it would be a pretty fast course, and it was. The cool weather helped me.”

Shane knocked about 30 seconds off of his previous personal best. The setting and competition were inviting, but he did not believe he would improve so significantly.

“Not by that much,” he said.

The twins have put in a lot of miles together since they began running as third-graders, and they seem to switch back and forth over which one is swifter at a given time.

“He has been faster than me for the last two years,” Chance said.

Just not right this minute.

By earning another race on the schedule on the very familiar Brown County course, Bane and his teammates hope an additional week of running will earn them new fastest times. Fife thinks it could well happen.

“That was good for us today,” Fife said after capturing the fifth-place team slot. “I feel like we’re trending in the right direction.”

As long as the Proffers steer clear of any late-breaking family reunions, weddings or other get-togethers.