Marauders get two individual titles, one team crown at Arabian Roundup

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Mt. Vernon’s Austin Rush (990) finishes first at the Arabian Roundup cross-country meet at Pendleton Heights High School on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (Rob Baker/Daily Reporter)

PENDLETON — Same teams, different runners.

For the second straight year, Mt. Vernon’s cross-country teams had the individual champions at Pendleton Heights High School’s Arabian Roundup.

At the Madison County course on the PHHS school grounds Wednesday, Mt. Vernon’s Austin Rush, runner-up to teammate Evan Rappe in the 2020 event, won the boys race with a 5K time of 16 minutes, 55.6 seconds. It was his first race under 17 minutes this season.

In the girls race, Marauder Morgan Tharp took top honors with a 5K time of 20:08.0. A year ago, Mt. Vernon’s Lydia Carrell, who was unable to run in Wednesday’s race, won the event.

“I thought she ran perfectly,” Mt. Vernon girls coach Kean Coy said of Tharp’s race. “She got out at a reasonable pace in the first (kilometer), didn’t really push or seem overly stressed. She reeled (New Castle leader Lydia Harvey) in over the next 3K.

“You could tell once she was there and had her eyes locked in on (Harvey), she was going to have the foot-speed in the end. It’s a good confidence booster for her, especially since Lydia won this last year. We had to pass on the crown to Morgan.”

Harvey finished second with a time of 20:24.2.

“I usually chill-out in the middle part of the race,” Tharp said, of her victory. “The last kilometer is usually when I try to kick it in.”

It was also the second straight year the Mt. Vernon girls won the team competition.

The Marauders finished with two runners in the top four and an overall score of 78. Alexandria Jenson was fourth with a time of 21:12.1.

“Some of them really rose to the occasion,” Coy added. “We didn’t have a couple of runners that are typically in our top seven and they stepped up when they needed to. I appreciate the effort.”

“It was good for the team for us all to finish well together and finishing in good placement, especially with having runners out,” Tharp said. “It shows we can overcome adversity. It gives us a boost for the rest of the season.”

New Palestine was third in the 13-team field with a score of 102, just six points behind second-place Pendleton Heights.

Four Dragons were in the Top 20, led by Courtney Study, who placed sixth with a time of 21:32.8.

It was the second race of the season for New Palestine, but first 5K. The Dragons ran a 4K at Zionsville over the weekend.

“I thought they ran well with it being a very hot night,” New Palestine coach Chuck Myers said. “We’re definitely moving in the right direction. I thought everyone competed well for the first 5K of the season. We did a good job as a group.”

Along with Tharp and Jenson, others scoring for the Marauders were, Emma Gale (22nd, 22:44.0), Alexandria Overshiner (26th, 23:00.7) and Melinda Cornelius (28th, 23:12.9).

For the Dragons, following Study were, Emma Mann (13th, 22:07.5), Caitlin Urrutia (17th, 22:27.8), Lexi Baynes (20th, 22:36.8) and Jocelynn Flagle (54th, 24:52.5).

In the boys race, Mt. Vernon had three place in the top eight and finished third among 15 teams. Wapahani won the race with a score of 71. Monroe Central edged Mt. Vernon 95-96 for second. New Palestine placed seventh with 187.

Rush, last year’s Hancock County Boys Cross-Country Runner of the Year, beat Monroe Central’s Tucker Burris by 23 seconds.

“It’s nice to run against a couple people close to me and get pushed,” Rush added, noting competition from a few other runners during the race. “It felt like more of mental thing to push myself to break 17. I was focused on my pacing, and especially my breathing with it being so hot today. I got to a settled pace, cruised it and kicked at the end.”

An individual runner-up in a number of the bigger meets last year, including the Arabian Roundup, Rush was glad to finish out front.

“It makes me want to finish first even more,” Rush said of moving up a notch in the standings. “I have a lot to push for and thrive for.”

Mt. Vernon’s Joseph Blagrave (4th, 17:44.2) and Samuel Wilson (8, 17:57.6) placed in the top eight. The Marauders also got scoring from Colin Strachman (23rd, 18:50) and Wilson Hoeppner (63rd, 20:42.0).

Connor Lapenta led the Dragons with a 24th place finish in 19:01. He beat teammate Cody Crawmer by two spots (26th, 19:03.6). Others scoring for New Pal were, Harrison Holloway (36th, 19:33.2), Hayden Isaacs (51st, 20:08.4) and Jesse Isaacs (55th, 20:35.7).

The race was minus a few county runners. Along with a few Marauders, on both sides, unable to run, New Palestine’s No. 1 boys runner Colin Darley, who splits time with the Dragons tennis team, was competing on the courts against Greenfield-Central on Wednesday.

Greenfield-Central’s boys team was scheduled to compete, but coach Aaron Smith said they decided not to come with projected high temperatures and heat index.