Henlopen Conference runners compete at state championships

November 17, 2017

The Delaware State Cross Country Championships were held last weekend at Killens Pond over the 3.1-mile, 5,000-meter fast and flat course. Hundreds of runners toed the line from public, private and charter schools up and down the First State.

Top local finisher was Henlopen Conference champion Austen Cave out of Delmar, as the junior finished fifth overall in the Division II race in 16:15. The place was the highest-ever state championship finish by a Delmar runner. Albert Norman was seventh overall in the Division I race to lead his Sussex Central team. Norman, who ran many of his races over 18 minutes just a year ago, is my choice for most improved runner of the year in Delaware. A productive summer of training for Norman brought the senior back in shape in August, and he kept improving his 5K time to run 16:26 at the big dance. Teammate Ben Campagnone finished 20th in the DI race running 17:05 for a solid showing.

Greg Boyce led the Vikings of Cape in a time of 16:31, good for 12th overall in DI, as the Vikings finished seventh as a team. Boyce was the top finisher in each of the Vikings’ meets this season. John DiStefano of Cape, a junior, finished 29th in 17:24 and had his best season to date. 

Dover finished eighth for the Henlopen Conference, while Czar Bloom’s Polytech team was ninth overall. Sussex Central was 10th as a team, while Smyrna was 11th and Sussex Tech finished 12th. Leading the way for the Henlopen Conference was the tight pack from Caesar Rodney, as the Riders took third in the DI race team standings.

The Smyrna girls put together their highest-ever girls’ finish of second place, riding the energy of top runner Naomi Bowser’s third-place finish in a great time of 18:41. Bowser was the only non-Padua runner in the top six.

The Caesar Rodney girls rose to the occasion at the state meet to grab fourth overall, while Cape was sixth. Cape’s Olivia Brozefsky, an all-state runner a year before, put together a solid race to finish seventh in 19:56, while freshman Amaya Daisey was 48th in 22:24. The gals from Sussex Tech were eighth overall, while Polytech was 11th and Dover was 15th. Sussex Central finished 16th overall.

In the DII race, the Indian River girls were 13th overall, led by Micayla Meehan in 22:39. The Indian River team did not have a top-notch front runner, but they were able to win a lot of meets and place high as a team because of their pack running, meaning all five scorers finished within a minute of each other – a key ingredient in successful cross country running. The interesting thing about the Indian River team was that 2017 Selbyville track standout eighth-grader Morgan McGee and longtime 21-minute 5K runner Emma Barthelmess both had field hockey sticks in their hands this fall. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Who knows how much the Indians would have moved up with those two standout runners.

Freshman Emily Trout led Sussex Academy with a personal best of 21:40, good for 34th place, while sophomore Lindsey Guida was 83rd in 23:43. Little sis Natalie, just an eighth-grader, finished 84th in 23:46.

Longtime Seashore Striders member sophomore Blake Hundley was the No. 2 runner for St. Andrew’s, finishing 12th in 16:53, as his improved school team was second to Tatnall by 14 points. St. Andrew’s had the early season edge on the tough Tatnall team, but, as they have done many times before, coach Pat’s Tatnall squad came on strong, saving their best races to the end to close out as DII state champions.

Striders send 29 to Ohio

The Seashore Striders will make their 27th consecutive trip to the Cross Country Coaches National Youth Championships this weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio, taking 29 athletes west to the Buckeye State.

Sussex Central runners Albert Norman and Ben Campagnone will run in the 17-18 young men’s division 5K race, while Henlopen Conference champion Austen Cave of Delmar will also run the 5K course in the intermediate boys’ division. The final 5K participant will be Lake Forest runner Mikayla Cannon, as she will race in the intermediate girls’ division.

Mariner Middle School runner Mia Neubling will run in the 4K youth girls’ division, as will Sussex Academy runner Emily Trout.

Mariner Middle School runner Katie Kuhlman, second last month at the Downstate Middle School Invitational and 18th in the nation last season, will lead the midget girls’ division on the 3K course. Teammate and Selbyville Middle School runner Devin Hundley, 11th in the nation last season, will join her. Hundley has been in the top 25 each of the last four years she has raced at the nationals. Milford Academy runner Faith Mitchell will also race in the midget girls’ division, while Love Creek’s Julie Daniello will join her three teammates.

Beacon Middle School runner Luke Burton will race in the midget boys’ race over the 3K course. Burton has been an All-American Top 10 finisher each of the past four years. Burton won the national championship individual title back in 2015 in Nashville, Tenn., at the age of 9. Holy Cross runner Caughnery Freese will join Burton to make a nice 1-2 punch, and they will be joined by Lord Baltimore runner Alexander Arnold, Beacon Middle runner Justin Friscia and Mariner Middle school runner Jakob Hayes.

Love Creek runner Brianna Sordi will be the lone representative in the 9-10 bantam girls’ division, as she made it to the big dance in only her first year on the team.

Laurel Elementary runner Bennett Brumbley will lead the 9-10 bantam boys’ division, while Shields Elementary runner Blake Fitzgerald will join Brumbley as a nice 1-2 punch. Love Creek runner Matthew Friscia will also race with the bantam boys, while first-year Millsboro East runner Gage Hall, Shields Elementary runner Michael Thompson, and Love Creek runner Eric Swift will make up the rest of the team.

The Striders will field their very first team in the 6-8 primary girls’ division, as Shields runners Shiloh O’Grady, Emmilyn Swift and Mia Thompson will lead the way on the 2K course. Holy Cross runner Lorelai Freese and Love Creek runner Laela Swift will round out the team of five.

Love Creek runner Chris Friscia, 12th in the nation last year, will represent the Striders in the primary boys’ division, while 5-year-old Cody Kuhlman will race in the 800-meter Race for Americas to close out Saturday’s championships.

The Striders will arrive in Ohio for the Friday walkthrough, pre-race opening ceremonies, and registration check-in before taking part in the meet on Saturday. More than 3,000 youth runners from across the country are expected to race in the championships to be held at Voice of America Park in Cincinnati. The top 25 runners of each age, from 6-18, are named to the Youth Cross Country All-American Team. 

This trip is the 27th in a row for the team that began in 1990, taking part in Oregon. Over the past 27 years, more than 200 athletes from downstate Delaware have traveled to the nationals. Highlights over the years include two national titles – Ben Bamforth at age 8 in Virginia Beach, Va., and Luke Burton at age 10 in Nashville, Tenn. The Striders also had a bantam girls’ team as high as third place in the team standings in the early ’90s in the 9-10 division as well as a seventh-place team of boys at Disney World in 2007. Good luck to Team Seashore Striders.