BY TYLER FENWICK
For the Daily Reporter
FORT WAYNE — The Mt. Vernon boys and girls cross-country teams competed on Saturday at the New Haven Semistate in Fort Wayne, but neither were able to advance to this weekend’s state meet.
The boys had six of their seven runners finish the 5K race in under 18 minutes to place 11th as a team, their highest finish since 2015 when they advanced to state.
“We’re feeling pretty darn good,” said Mt. Vernon head coach Bruce Kendall. “This is about the best we could do, and we don’t have any regrets here.”
The Marauders were led by senior Drew Bluethmann (33rd overall), who finished in 16 minutes, 47 seconds.
Sophomore Marco Ramirez (69th) finished in 17:12, and senior Alex Carver (75th) ran a 17:16. The Marauders’ scoring was capped by seniors Timothy Broaders (109th) and Trey Klevickas (114th) at 17:45 and 17:48, respectively.
Sophomore Jacob Benz (124th) ran a 17:54, and freshman Tyler Strantz (139th) ran an 18:14.
With four of the five scorers being seniors, Kendall knows there’s a lot to replace next season if his team is going to make it to semistate for a 13th consecutive season.
But Kendall said he’s hopeful for the runners he has returning, including those who will be racing varsity after being part of a junior varsity team that was “practically undefeated.”
“We feel really good about coming back here and taking another shot at it,” said Kendall.
The girls team finished last at 20th overall. Even though they had been dealing with numerous injuries for the last few weeks, head coach Kean Coy felt confident heading into the meet with only five of his top-seven runners competing.
“I don’t know what more we could’ve done the last week to get ready,” he said.
The highest finisher for the Marauders was senior Kassandra Ramirez (115th), who ran a 21:35. Sophomore Rilee Hartman (144th) ran a 22:17, and sophomore Kamryn Eason (153rd) ran a 22:52.
Senior Hannah Watson (169th) finished in 23:58, and sophomore Elizabeth Salsbury (171st) was the last scorer at 24:31.
Seniors Andrea Maynard (176th) and Grace Yeadon (179th) finished in 26:16 and 27:38, respectively.
Coy said there weren’t enough girls who were able to move up throughout the race to gain better positioning after several slow starts, and he took the blame for that.
“I didn’t emphasize it well enough throughout the week,” said Coy.
Still, Coy found a lot to be proud of as his team continued to battle through adverse conditions.
“For them to have competed that well for that long, we’ve done pretty well,” he said.