Cougars sweep XC titles in huge turnaround

Wednesday, September 26, 2018
The Cougar boys won their first Putnam County cross country title since 1991.
Banner Graphic/JOEY BENNETT

North teams break long droughts;Wilson, Rumley defend titles

What a difference a year makes.

A year ago, North Putnam finished third in the boys’ race and last in the girls’ race in the Putnam County cross country meet.

On Tuesday evening at South Putnam, the Cougars soared past the competition in winning both races to win county titles in the same year for the first time in school history.

“I’m incredibly proud of the way our athletes competed,” North coach Kevin Lutes said. “We felt that we had a lot of the pieces it would take to make this happen, but they were going to have to fight for each and every spot. They came through tonight in a big way.

“We’re excited to get back Saturday.”

The Cougars won the girls’ race with 43 points, outdistancing runnerup Greencastle’s total of 54.

Greencastle’s Emma Wilson completed a four-year domination of the event with a victory of nearly four minutes over the runnerup.

The only previous girls’ team county title for North Putnam came in 1997.

The Cougars did not have any of the top three individuals, but used strong depth with their top four runners (Anna Haste in fourth, Grace Elmore in fifth, Madison Trotter in ninth and Katie Frye in 10th) all placing in the top 10 to record the win.

Cloverdale’s Chelsie Edwards was second overall, while Samara Young placed third.

The boys’ race was even closer, as the Cougars placed three runners in the top five and edged runnerup South Putnam by a 33-35 margin.

The Cougars placed freshman Zach Huff (second), senior John Huffman (third) and junior Kyle Young (10th) in the top 10.

Huff was the only freshman to finish in the top 10.

North Putnam’s only other boys’ team title came in 1991.

South Putnam senior Austin Rumley defended his 2017 title, taking first place by nearly a minute over Huff.

Rumley’s back-to-back crowns made him the second straight Eagle to accomplish that feat.

Former Eagle standout Kieffer Vittetow, now the top runner for the University of Indianapolis, won consecutive titles in 2015 and 2016.

The common thread between the previous two North Putnam county champion teams?

The 1991 boys’ team was led by a senior runner named Roger Busch, who was an assistant coach six years later for the girls’ title team.

Busch now serves as the school’s athletic director.

A former head coach at Division III Wabash College and Division I Hartford, Busch has seen a tremendous upswing in his school’s running program since taking over the AD position last year.

He’s far too busy to be the head coach, but credits Lutes with having the dedication to get the program quickly headed in the right direction.

“I’m extremely proud of Coach Lutes,” Busch said. “He and I made a plan back on June 1 that he would be available every M-W-F at 7:30 a.m. and I would cover Tuesday-Thursday mornings all summer to provide opportunities for our kids to run. Our belief is cross country is won in the summer.”

Busch said that “huge” commitment by Lutes to be there three days a week all summer long definitely paid dividends on Tuesday night.

“His love of cross country has been rejuvenated with an AD that understands and supports him, and the kids, in the pursuit of becoming better and better in a ‘non-ESPN’ sport,” Busch said. “I couldn’t be happier for Coach Lutes and the NP cross country team.”

All four Putnam County teams will return to the South Putnam course on Saturday morning to compete in the Western Indiana Conference meet.

Wilson is the three-time defending girls’ WIC champion.

North Putnam’s girls won their first Putnam County cross country title since 1997 on Tuesday.
Banner Graphic/JOEY BENNETT

Putnam County cross country meet

Girls’ race

Team scores — North Putnam 43, Greencastle 54, Cloverdale 62, South Putnam 62

Individual winner — Emma Wilson (Greencastle) 19:39 (fourth straight win)

North Putnam runners — 4. Anna Haste 23:18, 5. Grace Elmore 23:22, 9. Madison Trotter 24:41, 10. Katie Fry 24:56, 15. Jaden Day 26:24, 17. Taylor Hensley 26:54, 23. Reghan Christy 29:36, 24. Josie Lyons 30:44.

Other Greencastle runners — 6. Sydney Kallem 23:27, 13. Olivia Headley 25:41, 16. Mika Mozawa 26:38, 18. Allison Fajt 27:26, 19. Audrie Brennan 27:41, 20. Ella Thomas 28:14, 26. Dale Thomas 31:45

Cloverdale runners — 2. Chelsie Edwards 23:07, 7. Lily Monnett, 8. Macie Couch 24:30, 21. Megan Miller 28:29, 24. Abigail Bernard 30:49, 27. Jasmine Blankenship 32:43.4

South Putnam runners — 3. Samara Young 23:15, 11. Lilly Vittetow 24:58, 12. Catherine Hodge 25:18, 14. Sarah Jones 25:57, 22. Ally Menke 29:07, 28. Ava McHugh 33:24.2

Boys’ race

Team scores — North Putnam 33, South Putnam 35, Cloverdale 64, Greencastle 102

Individual winner — Austin Rumley (South Putnam) 18:30 (second straight win)

North Putnam runners — 2. Zach Huff 19:27, 3. John Huffman 19:34, 5. Kyle Young 19:48, 10. Matthew Trotter 20:16, 13. Ellis Lyons 20:39, 14. Adam Bonebrake 20:47, 16. Grant Jarboe 21:09, 22. Caden Storm 21:44, 30. Nic Hensley 23:14, 31. Kenny Knutti 23:56, 36. Jacob Farrington 24:51

Other South Putnam runners — 4. Eric Hinkle 19:40, 7. Karl Egold 19:53, 8. Andrew Carr 19:55, 15. Brent Wiggins 21:06, 19. Clay Cash 21:36, 20. Eli Smith 21:40, 21. Daniel Johnson 21:42, 24. Allen Plunkett 22:43, 33. Trevor Vanihel 24:11

Cloverdale runners — 6. Rylan Hall 19:50, 11. Nate Nees 20:20, 12. Seth Geiger 20:33, 17. Ray Bates 21:17, 18. Chase Ashcraft 21:22, 23. Josh Beikman 22:52, 25. Elliott Williamson 23:01, 32. Brady Koosman 23:56, 34. Nate Monnett 24:17, 35. Grant Maners 24:29, 37. Hunter Pannell 27:01, 38. Levy Godsey 29:04

Greencastle runners — 9. Ian Frank 20:02, 21. Joey Kleffman 21:56, 22. Donovan Asbell 22:47, 24. John Brook 22:54, 26. Brandon Olsen 23:08

Members of the all-Putnam County team for placing in the top seven were (from left, in order) South Putnam’s Austin Rumley, North Putnam’s Zach Huff and John Huffman, South Putnam’s Eric Hinkle, North Putnam’s Kyle Young, Cloverdale’s Rylan Hall and South Putnam’s Karl Egold.
Banner Graphic/JOEY BENNETT
Members of the all-county team for placing in the top seven were (from left, in order) Greencastle’s Emma Wilson, Cloverdale’s Chelsie Edwards, South Putnam’s Samara Young, North Putnam’s Anna Haste and Grace Elmore, Greencastle’s Sydney Kallem and Cloverdale’s Lily Monnett.
Banner Graphic/JOEY BENNETT