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Maconaquah girls 2nd, Peru boys 4th at XC Sectional

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CLEAR SAILING: Maconaquah’s Karli Miller kept the rest of the field at the Logansport Cross Country Sectional in the rear-view mirror Saturday morning on the way to winning the girls’ race in 20:10. Miller and the Braves will race again this Saturday after finishing second overall as Western reclaimed the sectional title.
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ON THE HUNT: One Tiger was on the prowl for another as Peru’s Alex Legg (L) kept tabs on Northwestern’s Jeremy Bell (R) during the early stages of the Logansport Cross Country Sectional Saturday morning. Legg would finish well ahead of Bell by the end of the race, helping Peru to a fourth-place finish and advancement to the Culver Military Academy Regional this Saturday.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

LOGANSPORT – Two of four Miami County teams at the Logansport Cross Country Sectional advanced to the Culver Military Academy Regional Saturday morning.

Maconaquah finished second in its defense of its girls’ sectional title as Western ran away from the field with a team score of 50 while Peru saw its boys’ team finish fourth overall to advance to the regional for the first time since 2014.

The Braves, which finished on 77 team points in the girls’ race, did walk away with some hardware as Karli Miller won the sectional in a time of 20:10 while two runners from the boys’ team in Sam Bourne and Dalton Farnell also advanced to the regional next week.

A much warmer and muggy morning of racing than at the TRC Cross Country Meet the previous weekend saw times tick up for many of the runners throughout both races.

Haley Salinas was the next Maconaquah runner to finish behind Miller, placing 11th in 21:35, followed by Annie Isenburg in 16th in 22:10 and Bailey Hays in 21st in 22:32.

Madison Wilson was the final scoring runner, placing 37th in 24:23 while Rachel Eby crossed the line in 26:43.

Braves girls’ head coach Allen Sayger said the squad did well in their sectional title defense and was particularly happy with the way Miller attacked the course.

“We’re pleased with the results overall,” Sayger said. “As we started to keep track of runners after mile two, we saw Western had an edge but it would be a tight race.

“Western had depth, experience and twice as many meets as the youngsters we have, so congrats to them. We’re thrilled with Karli as she came in expecting to have a good shot to win, ran like it and we can’t be more proud of that girl.”

The only bit of disappointing news was that Alex Merritt, who completed last week’s conference race, was unable to do so again this week, though Sayger said even had she finished, the outcome likely would not have changed.

“We kept looking for (Alex) to go by and when we saw (Madison and Rachel) go by, we knew she had an issue in the woods,” Sayger said about Merritt, who had battled injuries throughout the season. “Her concern when we found her was the team standing rather than herself, worried that she let the team down.

“Looking at everything, Western took it to everyone and even if she had finished by Bailey, they would have won by a good margin, so we didn’t want her to feel like it was her fault in any way.”

Peru’s two runners, Sadie Carter and Mya Lancaster, did not advance with the former crossing in 24:05 and the latter in 25:46.

Tiger head coach Chris Butte said both girls gave it a go but were just on the wrong side of the advancement line.

“It was a competitive girls’ race,” Butte said. “Sadie and Mya both ran pretty well and it felt like they gave their all.

“The humidity affected Mya a bit but their times were both consistent and they still tried their best to get where they needed to be. They’re a little bummed but ready to go for next year.”

The boys’ race went better for Peru as the team placed fourth on 115 points.

Adam Garner led the charge with a sixth place finish in 18:10 with Alex Legg crossing in 15th place in 18:50 and Braxton Jimenez coming in 24th in 19:21.

Cole Sailors finished 30th in 19:41 and Treyden Curtis rounded out the team scoring in 41st in 20:13. Colton Ressett crossed in 21:18 while Brayden Thomas finished in 21:44.

Butte said the team was looking for a better finish than the previous week and got it.

“The runners were excited today and came out ready to go,” Butte said. “All week long, we were preparing for this weekend, using a quick 20 minute run on Friday to try and get their minds in it.

“There were a few nerves but they came out ready to conquer. The boys were looking for fifth but were excited to get fourth, running their best race regardless of placing and time as they kept chopping the next runner down.”

Bourne finished third overall for Maconaquah in 17:54 while Farnell made the cut for individual advancement by finishing 26th in 19:27.

Jonah Loshnowsky and Feenix Kile crossed in 39th and 40th respectively in 20:05 and 20: 12 while Billy Miles finished 46th to round out the Braves’ seventh-place team finish in 20:48. Kolson Silcox crossed in 21:06 and Jacob Edwards finished in 21:40.

Maconaquah boys’ head coach Chris Edgington said the runners had a sound strategy going in and finished the race stronger than many of the others they were running with.

 “The guys raced very smart,” Edgington said. “They applied the principals we had been practicing, which was about controlling the first mile.

“They believed in their training so that, when everyone else was struggling to hang on, they had the energy, the desire to attack and made some moves. The guys that showed up today to do that were able to make those moves.”

The advancing runners will take part in the Culver Military Academy Regional this coming Saturday.

Edgington noted that, with the schools on fall break, getting athletes together would be a bit of an obstacle but one that the teams would be able to work around.

“It’ll be challenging for us because of fall break,” Edgington pointed out. “The availability of the guys to meet is difficult as most of our students get to school by bus.

“We haven’t worked out a practice plan yet but we’ll be doing some long runs while also doing more pacing practice. The key for guys in the regional race, when there’s going to be some excitement and some nerves, is to be smart in the first mile and be confident they know the pace they need to go in spite of what people around them are doing.”

Butte said the goal was to keep preparations as close as possible to the previous week.

“We’re going to try to do the same thing we did during sectional week, which is to try to loosen up, get some miles in and get ready to go mentally,” Butte said. “We’re at a point where we’re maintaining what we have and trying to run our best.

“We’ll get a chance to check out the course Thursday and prepare mentally for the race. It’s awesome for these guys to race Saturday as a team.”

Sayger expected runners to be much quicker overall as the temperatures were expected to drop significantly by the weekend.

“The times overall at Logansport were slow to the point where, if we made a guess, humidity accounted for about an additional 30 seconds for everyone,” Sayger said. “We went to warm up with the girls in the woods and with the temperature, the humidity and no wind, if felt like they were running underwater and drinking more in with every breath.

“That’s a big adjustment. Next week is supposed to be more autumn-like, so we’re looking forward to better performances from all the teams and great performances from several individuals.”

North Miami will have three runners at the meet as well after the girls’ team finished sixth overall at the Culver Military Academy Sectional while the boys were a runner short of competing as a team.

Nicky Scher paced the Warriors in the girls’ race by finishing sixth overall in 20:47, advancing along with Kaylee Lane, who finished 25th in 22:59.

Shyloe Hunt crossed in 26:05, followed by Alyssa Ramsell in 27:02 and Audrey Piel in 28:24.

Malachi Sanderson will also race this Saturday after finishing 23rd overall in 19:10.

Kenny Wilkinson finished in 22:17 while Keaton Spear crossed in 26:53 and Rhys Percy came in in 28:01.