NEW PALESTINE — With nearly a 15-second cushion separating him from the pack, Mt. Vernon’s Christian Noble needed a moment to catch his breath once he crossed the finish line on Tuesday.
He didn’t turn in his fastest time. Far from it, but his 16-minute, 21.05-second first-place run during the Hancock County Cross Country Championships at New Palestine was exactly what he wanted to do.
“That was brutal,” Noble remarked while wiping his sweat-soaked brow. “On this course, it’s not really about time.
“It was about the team today. I was just trying to score that one point.”
Battling the hilly terrain and the micro-climate shift between the course’s sun-exposed flats and high-humidity through the woods, Noble conquered his goal.
And his teammates followed.
The Marauders placed seven runners in the top 15 to earn all-county honors, and Aaron Rush fended off the rest of the county’s best with a runner-up finish to give Mt. Vernon 31 team points and a championship repeat.
Greenfield-Central was second with 36 points and New Palestine was third at 58 points with Eastern Hancock fourth.
Rush, who won last year’s race in 15:57.10, took second at 16:34.51, holding off Greenfield-Central’s Zach Bishop (16:42.76). New Palestine’s Samuel Voelz was fourth at 16:49.90.
Unbeaten as an individual this season, Noble entered the race as the odds-on favorite after posting a 15:19 at the Muncie Central Invitational last week.
Through the first mile, he bided his time before building an insurmountable lead prior to his final push.
“Coming up the first hill, it was a pack of about three or four of us, but once we crossed it, I just made my move early and showed them that Mt. Vernon’s not playing around,” Noble said.
The Marauders halted Greenfield-Central’s championship run at three straight when they captured the team title last fall, and it took an extra effort to hold the Cougars back this time around.
Greenfield-Central had five runners capture all-county placements — each claiming top-11 times — with four finishing no higher than ninth.
Tyler Morris was fifth at 17:19.37 and Tommy Hembree and Jacob Hansen were eighth and ninth.
“Greenfield ran a really smart race. We may have won, but I felt like I was out-coached, out-motivated, out-prepared,” Mt. Vernon head coach Bruce Kendall said. “(Greenfield-Central coach) Aaron (Smith) had them in much better shape, then I had mine today.
“We still managed to win, but it was more about what was going to happen with the fourth and fifth runners today.”
Depth fell in favor of the Marauders as Brandt True was sixth (17:36.58) and the rest of their seven filed in closely behind, beginning with Drew Bluethmann in 10th.
“Bluethmann has really been coming on for us,” Kendall said. “(Brian) Bozymski is very reliable and (Brendan) O’Bryhim always seems to find a way to be right there in the middle of everything. True did what he was suppose to do and finished not too far behind Tyler Morris. That helped us.”
The Cougars’ plan almost worked, but New Palestine’s Chase Crowder taking seventh and Kyler Harrison in 14th divvied up the points evenly.
“I was going to try to beat Rush, and we were going to try to pack in three or four runners before True. That was our plan,” Bishop said. “Even though we didn’t, I think we ran to the best of our abilities. I’m proud of our efforts.”
Noble’s win marks Mt. Vernon’s county-leading 11th individual winner since 1990. Their team title is a county-best 12th and the eighth time a school has repeated as champion.
“It’s awesome to win county, but in the end it’s all about the big picture. We’re focusing on hitting our best at state, so if we’re not hitting our best times here, then that’s fine,” Noble said. “We all know what the big goal is.”
2015 Hancock County Cross Country Championships
Boys Team Results
Mt. Vernon 31, Greenfield-Central 36, New Palestine 58, Eastern Hancock 116.
All-County Finishers (Top 15 runners)
Christian Noble, Mt. Vernon, 16:21.05
Aaron Rush, Mt. Vernon, 16:34.51
Zachariah Bishop, Greenfield-Central, 16:42.76
Samuel Voelz, New Palestine, 16:49.90
Tyler Morris, Greenfield-Central, 17:19.37
Brandt True, Mt. Vernon, 17:36.58
Chase Crowder, New Palestine, 17:42.49
Tommy Hembree, Greenfield-Central, 17:45.74
Jacob Hansen, Greenfield-Central, 17:52.72
Drew Bluethmann, Mt. Vernon, 17:59.35
Parker Niemeier, Greenfield-Central, 18:03.52
Brendan O’Bryhim, Mt. Vernon, 18:07.12
Ashton Jordan, Mt. Vernon, 18:09.80
Kyler Harrison, New Palestine, 18:11.45
Brian Bozymski, Mt. Vernon, 18:18.33