Cape cross country heads to state meet
Coach Matt Lindell will lead his Henlopen Conference champion boys’ cross country team into this weekend’s Delaware State Championships at hilly Brandywine Creek State Park in Wilmington.
Coach Lindell has been in this situation before, as the Vikings topped powerhouse Salesianum 42-60 last year to win their first state championship since Pat Pollock’s squad won the title in 2001. At the 2020 championships at Killens Pond, both Cape and Sallies placed three in the top 10 and looked to be evenly matched, but the Vikings prevailed by their 4-5-6 all finishing ahead of Sallies’ fourth runner. The Vikings have cruised through the regular season, winning a few invitationals before taking the Sussex County and Henlopen Conference championships in convincing fashion. This time around, it will be on turf that Sallies knows well – the hills of Brandywine Creek. It’s no secret having Brandywine in your backyard and being able to train there whenever you want is a huge advantage to the upstate teams compared to the much smaller hills of Cape Henlopen State Park and the Freeman Highway bridge over the canal. But the Vikings have done their homework, and they know what they need to do to take a shot at a repeat.
Junior Ryan Baker finished fourth last week at the Henlopen Conference Championships and will lead the Vikings off the starting line, but it’s the in-the-zone racing by young sophomore Joey DeGregory, who raced his middle school years at Brandywine, that has been a huge lift for the Vikings. DeGregory was fifth last week at the conference meet and was followed closely by junior Julian Callaway in seventh. Junior Liam O’Donnell, son of former standout distance runner Joe O’Donnell of Seaford, ran in the fourth position, finishing 10th at conference, while Brian Sponaugle wrapped up the scoring in 21st place. Alexander Howarth ran in the sixth position followed by Declan Morrissey rounding out the Cape varsity at the conference championships.
The bottom line is that all seven Vikings have to show up regardless of the course or conditions. If this team shows up mentally and physically, they will definitely be in the mix for another state championship banner.
KK to lead Cape girls
Second-place finisher at last week’s conference championships, junior Katie Kuhlman, will lead the Vikings into the state championships this weekend at Brandywine Creek. The Vikings were third at last week’s race behind CR and Sussex Academy, and look to run well at the Creek. Young Hailey Hassell ran the race of her impressive season, finishing 12th overall and has gone from a 29-minute 5K to racing 21:02. Trackster Alexa Dougherty was in 15th place and will be looking for a big race followed by Allison Head and Mia Nuebling rounding out the top five for the Vikings.
State meet notes - Look for Brynn Crandell of Indian River to continue her impressive season. She will have to be on her game to win her first state title, which would be a first for Indian River High School. Crandell is light on her feet, efficient, and just plain tough – all key ingredients to race on the hills. Sussex Academy will hope to take its pack racing style to a new level and knock off some better Division II teams. They will be led by senior Sadie Tunnell. Katya Geyer has had a great season as an eighth-grader, as 20 seconds and four years separate SAS’s top two runners. Arina Varrato will lead Sussex Tech into states, while Colin Kay will lead the Tech boys’ team.
Delaware Junior High State Championships
Mariner sixth-grader and Seashore Strider Allison Ortiz ran a good race Nov. 6 at Winterthur Park in Wilmington, where she was second in the field of 60. Ortiz put together a season to remember, as she won the Downstate Invitational at Browns Branch and the Sandhill Seashore Classic, and she was the winner of all the Mariner dual meets this season, setting course records for the Cape middle school course and the Sandhill 3K course. Ortiz ran in a group of three to four girls in a chase pack behind the leader and was able to move into second in the final 400 meters to hit the line in 14:52 for the 2.15-mile course.
Striders heading to Nationals
The Seashore Striders team will make its 31st trip to the Cross Country Coaches National Youth Championships next weekend in Paris, Ky. The Striders will bring the following 15 athletes: Katie Kuhlman, Alexa Dougherty, Allison Head, Sadie Tunnell, Arina Varrato, Victoria LeCates, Colin Kay, JJ Klosiewicz, Cody Kuhlman, Kai Mundok, Allison Ortiz, Brady and Dylan Sherman, and Nolan and Nora Furlong. Most of the team members will leave Wednesday evening and Thursday morning for the trip to just outside Lexington.