GREENFIELD — Greenfield-Central was content to let Seth Eagleson pull away to the Hancock County Cross Country Meet individual championship on Tuesday. It’s not as if the Cougars had much choice, with the New Palestine junior having established his local dominance some time ago.
But, the team title — that’s what mattered to G-C.
The Cougars and Eagleson left Brandywine Park in Greenfield equally satisfied. Placing five runners in the top 11 places, G-C earned its second straight county championship with 34 points to outpace Mt. Vernon (41), while Eagleson crossed the finish line more than 30 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.
Eagleson’s time of 16 minutes, 23.11 seconds set a new county meet record.
G-C sophomore Syrus Fletcher, who finished third in 17:19.71, said Eagleson and runner-up Austin Dodd (16:54.03) of New Palestine were not a major concern for the Cougars.
“It was kind of like, ‘Just let Eagleson do what he does,’” Fletcher said. “Because if we went out with him, it would be bad for us. It would kill our runners; it would be too fast.
“It was mostly ‘beat black’ today — beat the Mt. Vernon runners. And if we got between four and seven (runners) in the top 10, we did our job, and that’s what happened. All the black uniforms, we got all of them.”
Fletcher was joined in the Cougars’ lineup by fourth-place Garrett Benedict (17:19.89) and sixth-place Taylor Wright (17:26.43) in, to a man, finishing ahead of Mt. Vernon’s top three runners: Brandt True (fifth, 17:24.31), Andrew Thaxton (seventh, 17:32) and Aaron Rush (17:36.61).
Each county’s squad’s top five runners compiled the team score, and the Cougars’ winning quintet was completed by 10th-place Jason LaFord (17:48.96) and 11th-place Zach Bishop (17:50.11).
Mt. Vernon’s Taylor VanWinkle (17:46.36) was ninth and Andrew Boyle (17:58.03) came home 12th.
Bruce Kendall, the Marauders’ veteran coach, pointed out that the Cougars’ top five runners posted a total time of one hour, 27 minutes, 46 seconds, while MV’s total time was 1:28:19.
“Pretty close meet when you run 3.1 miles and it comes down to a few seconds here and there,” he said. “Brandt True had another great performance for us and Thaxton and Rush were at their best, but it was not good enough.”
New Palestine’s third runner behind the Eagleson-Dodd duo was freshman Riley Wilson (18:18.03) in 14th, and the Dragons finished third in the team standings with 53 points.
Eastern Hancock’s incomplete contingent of four runners was led by Jacob Mueller (19:51.93) in 22nd.
Overall, Greenfield-Central’s varsity unit placed seven runners in the top 16. And the county JV winner, G-C sophomore Luke Shambaugh, finished in 17:53.91, which would have been fast enough for 12th in the varsity race. Led by Shambaugh, the Cougars took the top four places in the JV race and won the team title.
That program depth was the key to the Cougars’ varsity win Tuesday, according to Fletcher.
“Everyone wants a varsity spot, so the JV has to run hard and that makes the varsity run even harder,” he said. “We have 10-12 guys that can step up and run varsity. All the hard work this summer and all the depth, it’s really paying off.
“If one person has a bad day — even if two-three people have a bad day — two or three other people are going to have a good day.”
Eagleson certainly had a good day. In fact, it was a performance never before seen since the county meet’s inception in 1990. Mt. Vernon’s Brad Untrauer set a meet record of 16:26 in 2004 that stood until Tuesday. Untrauer, who would go on to a 13th-place state finish, is the only runner to win three straight county boys’ races, a feat Eagleson is favored to match next season.
“Brad Untrauer was just a stud,” said New Palestine coach Daniel Weimer, who was a coach at Brebeuf while Untrauer competed in the same regional as the Braves. “I really am humbled that our name’s mentioned with him.
“I saw Untrauer run, and he was just a great young man and a great competitor. So, you break a guy like that’s time, that’s something special.”
Eagleson knocked nearly one minute off his county-winning time of 17:19 from last season. It came as no surprise on the heels of a personal-best 16:02 he posted over the weekend in a meet at Carmel that featured several of the state’s top runners.
Still, he didn’t have Untrauer’s mark targeted Tuesday.
“Actually I had no idea what the county record was,” Eagleson said. “Today, I didn’t worry about time. I knew it would be tough to get a PR (personal record), because I just did that. And I knew I would be a little alone (on the course), so I just went out to win it.”
Eagleson followed up his sophomore county victory with a third-place (16:50) sectional finish and a sixth (17:00) at regional.
His season ended at semistate (where the top 15 runners advance to state) with a 53rd-place finish in 16:47. The 15th-place runner that day crossed the line in 15:54.
“Currently, I believe I’m seeded one at sectional and one at regionals … but I want to be top 15 at semistate, that’s really the overall goal.”
If last year’s semistate times are any indication, Eagleson might need to knock just a few more seconds off his personal best to ensure a state finals qualification. He believes it’s within reach.
“I feel like I have more in me,” he said. “I definitely have room to get faster. I always do, I always will. And if I work hard I can get it. That’s what I plan to do.”
Notes: Untrauer’s winning county meet times were 17:32 (2002), 16:40 (2003) and 16:26 (2004). … The Cougars have won eight county titles. Mt. Vernon has 10 championship trophies, New Palestine has five titles and Eastern Hancock has not won a boys’ team title. … While Eagleson set a county meet record, Mt. Vernon’s Jeffrey Wheeler is still the all-time king of local cross country. Wheeler won a state title for the Marauders in 1983 with a time of 14:57. Wheeler finished second at state the following season in 15:08.
Hancock County Cross Country Meet
Tuesday at Brandywine Park, Greenfield
5 kilometers/3.1 miles
1. New Palestine 27 (1-4-6-7-9)
2. Mt. Vernon 59 (3-10-12-16-18)
3. Greenfield-Central 66 (5-11-13-15-22)
4. Eastern Hancock 72 (2-8-17-21-24)
Individuals (with grade, school, time)
1. Sarah Schwartz (9) NP, 19:33.53
2. Kiersten Schrope (11) EH, 20:14.78
3. Elizabeth Cook (12) MV, 20:19.64
4. Marissa Crosby (10) NP, 20:49.53
5. Kara Purvis (12) GC, 20:58.81
6. Natalie Shields (11) NP, 21:00.36
7. Bailey Wallace (9) NP, 21:02.78
8. Shelby Wyatt (12) EH, 21:06.53
9. Kayla Medaris (11) NP, 21:11.46
10. Jessica Grubb (10) MV, 21:15.39
11. Nicole Stephenson (9) GC, 21:22.25
12. Morgan Hayse (10) MV, 21:30.36
13. Rebecca Flora (11) GC, 21:34.53
14. Emily Trimpe (12) NP, 21:36.28
15. Emily Dupnik (12) GC, 21:37.00
1. Greenfield-Central 34 (3-4-6-10-11)
2. Mt. Vernon 41 (5-7-8-9-12)
3. New Palestine 53 (1-2-14-17-19)
4. Eastern Hancock, Inc.
Individuals (with grade, school, time)
1. Seth Eagleson (11) NP, 16:23.11*
2. Austin Dodd (12) NP, 16:54.03
3. Syrus Fletcher (10) GC, 17:19.71
4. Garrett Benedict (12) GC, 17:19.89
5. Brandt True (9) MV, 17:24.31
6. Taylor Wright (10) GC, 17:26.43
7. Andrew Thaxton (11) MV, 17:32.61
8. Aaron Rush (9) MV, 17:36.86
9. Taylor Van Winkle (12) MV, 17:46.96
10. Jason LaFord (10) GC, 17:48.96
11. Zach Bishop (9) GC, 17:50.11
12. Andrew Boyle (11) MV, 17:58.03
13. Christopher Tatom (11) GC, 18:05.53
14. Riley Wilson (9) NP, 18:18.03
15. Brendan O’Bryhim (9) MV, 18:22.00
*Hancock County Meet record
Team: GC 16, NP 56, MV 64
1st place: Luke Shambaugh (10) GC, 17:53.91
Team: NP 15
1st place: Mattie Waggoner (9) NP, 21:37.63