Ryan Baker breaks 16-minute barrier at Sandhill race

September 24, 2021

Cape junior Ryan Baker ran away with first-place honors Sept. 22 at the flat and fast 5,000-meter course at Sandhill Fields in Georgetown during the seven-team Henlopen Conference Cross Country Carnival. Baker, who ran low 9:30s in the 3,200 meters last spring, led from start to finish, blazing through the opening mile in sub-5:00 and never looking back. The light-footed distance runner flew through the course in a time of 15:51.6, well ahead of the rest of the field. Junior Chase Sims of Indian River was a distant second in 16:31.2, while Ian Cain of Caesar Rodney ran 17:20.8 for third overall.

The Vikings took six of the top 11 places to easily top all opposing teams in the meet, but the Vikings were technically only scoring with Caesar Rodney, Indian River and Sussex Central.

For the Vikings, junior Julian Callaway was fourth overall in 17:21.1, while sophomore Joey DeGregory was eighth in 17:57.7. Junior Alex Howarth finished 13th in 18:29.7, junior Liam O’Donnell was 19th in 18:35.2, junior Andrew Wolak finished 26th in 18:43.2 and junior Jakob Hayes rounded out the varsity in 19:10.9.

Cape has had a handful of runners run in the 16s for a 5K, but Baker can now pencil his name in the sub-16 group as the only one who has broken the barrier in a legit 5K. Some of the past Vikings runners may have run the same pace, but most courses in the ‘70s and ‘80s were not a true 5K; they were in the 2.7- to 2.9-mile range.

The Cape boys topped the Riders 22-36, Indian River 19-44 and the Golden Knights of Sussex Central 15-50.

On the girls’ side of the action, IR sophomore sensation Brynn Crandell, the 2020 Sussex County and Henlopen Conference champion, wasted little time going to the front of the pack and racing against the clock, which she is accustomed to doing. At the finish, Crandell’s lead was just under a minute as she hit the line in 18:33.5 for the win and her season best.  

CR junior Hannah Zura was second in 19:28.4, while Cape junior Katie Kuhlman ran just over 20 minutes for third. The Vikings were able to take three of the top seven finisher spots in the race, as sophomore Colleen Flynn ran 21:30.5 for sixth place and junior Alexa Dougherty, in her first year of cross country, ran a season and personal best time of 21:34.2 for seventh place. Senior Mia Nuebling ran 22:31.9 for 17th place, while junior Ariana Adili-Khams finished 22nd in 22:45.0, sophomore Kayla Droge ran 23:30.9 and Elizabeth Melson ran 24:36.9 to round out the Cape varsity.

Although the Riders only grabbed two of the top 10 finishes, the pack-running Riders finished 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th to push the Vikings’ fourth and fifth runners back, which made a difference in the outcome of the meet. The Riders topped the Vikings 27-30 and it was even closer when adding up the top five performances, as the Riders only held a 12-second advantage over the Vikings. Cape was able to top Indian River 20-42 and the Golden Knights of Sussex 16-47.

With the seven teams that competed, a total of 42 dual meets were figured out. Thanks to software programs, a meet of this caliber can be efficient and successful. If not for technology, I would still be sitting at a picnic table scoring the meet with a pencil and paper like back in the day.


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