The meet was run in “blow dryer”-like conditions, said Bennett of the intense weather conditions, where temperatures hit into the mid-90s with a dry breeze doing little to break the heat throughout the day.
“There were kids walking off the course and puking – I thought it was scary,” said Bennett. “I’m thinking, ‘this kid easily could be in distress.’ It was more than one – there were a ton of kids. There was a hot breeze, but it was like running with a blow dryer (on you).”
The Generals weathered the heat well, finishing seventh in the 21-team race and giving Bennett plenty of optimism for the future with their 198-point finish. The Wooster girls placed 13th out of 18 teams with 318 points in their portion of the meet. Brunswick won the race with 57 points, well in front of runner-up Magnificat (115) and Notre Dame Academy (121).
“I thought the boys did well,” said Bennett. “St. Ignatius won the meet with 71 points and we finished with 198 behind Louisville, which was last year’s state champion.”
What encouraged Bennett was who else finished ahead of Wooster, although it amplified the work ahead for his team at the same time.
Avon Lake was second with 93 points, followed by St. Francis de Sales (117), St. Edward (118), Louisville (166), Brunswick (175) and Wooster.
“Avon Lake and Brunswick were regional qualifiers last year, St. Ignatius made it to State, St. Ed’s was another regional qualifier and Toledo St. Francis made it to State,” said Bennett. “That’s three teams from the top-10 in the state last year and three regional qualifiers ahead of us.
“I thought the varsity did a pretty good job getting in there and running hard on a challenging day. Just walking to the opposite side of the course I sweated through my shirt immediately. For the kids to run that well is a good thing. But, the boys know they did not run to their potential. I think we could have run better, at least 30 points better. We didn’t run what we were capable of even with the heat.”
Senior Cody Neidig turned in a time of 17:11 and placed 16th overall out of 138 runners, “which was a nice positive for him,” praised Bennett. Brock Berlin and Zach Humrichouser ran together, with Berlin’s 31st-place, 17:35 clocking edging Humrichouser by one place and one second.
Ian Parry (51) turned in an 18:15, with Paul Wood (68) just breaking 19 minutes with his 18:55 showing. Freshman Kevin White (97, 20:11) and Drew Wigham (104, 20:21) rounded out Wooster’s top seven runners.
“We have to shrink the range between numbers one and seven runners, which I think we are capable of doing,” said Bennett. “For our younger runners, those conditions may not have fazed them in middle school, but they were only running two miles, not 5,000 meters, so that can be intimidating.
“There is just no replacement for experience and competition. Hopefully by the end of the season we will see a team that is more assertive and races with the same intensity they train with. If we do that, we have a real shot at doing some amazing things by the end of the season.”
The Generals finished 13th out of 21 teams in the JV race, led by Zach Carmel 20:04. Zach Buchholz ran a 20:42, followed by Troy Chipka (21:27), Jonathan Patterson (21:53), Peter Gooch (21:56), Keegan Purvis (23:27) and Keene Purvis (23:39).
Patrick Carmel had the top open run for Wooster with a 22:54.
The Miller girls provided Wooster with its top two performances for the second week in a row. Senior Claire Miller was Wooster’s top runner, posting a 21:17 clocking and crossing the line 23rd. Lauren Miller, a sophomore, was nearly a minute behind her, as she placed 49th with a 22:13.
“Claire didn’t add on as much time as other girls (from the Revere Invitational Sept. 3),” said Wooster High girls coach Nikki Reynolds. “She did a nice job around the curves and she had good arm movement. With our lifting program, when your legs get tired, your arms will help carry you through the race. Claire and everyone else is getting stronger with our lifting program and hopefully we’ll see those dividends at the end of September and October.”
Kaitlyn Aukerman turned in a meet personal best and season best 23:41 as she placed 78th. Gabrielle Sibilia made the jump to varsity and was Wooster’s fourth runner across the line with her 23:51 clocking, which was good for 81st. Rebecca Kreuzman was close behind her with a meet PB 24:13 (87th) to round out the top five runners.
Vicki Anderson (96th, 24:47) and Kim Sibilia (104th, 26:15) capped Wooster’s top seven runners in a meet that featured 128 runners on the varsity level.
In the JV race, Hannah Doan led Wooster with her 35th-place, 25:18 showing. Jackie White (42nd, 25:53), Erin Johnson, (57th, 26:53), Sarah Sanford, (60th, 27:02) and Allie Wigham (61st, 27:02) all followed her. Wooster was 10th out of 13 schools that entered full teams.
In the open race, which had 131 runners, Grace Cheng placed 83rd with her time of 29:55.
The meet brought a high level of competition, noted Reynolds.
“Looking at the teams, there were some we saw (at Revere) last week,” she said. “It was nice to see them on a different course with another week of practice. The times were slower because of the heat, but we’re going to have some adverse conditions down the road. We told the girls to try and stay hydrated (but) their faces still looked ashen, so we need to do more with hydration.
“I give them credit. They were out there running, girls and boys, doing their best. That’s just one of the things as an athlete you have to deal with. Everyone was out there at the same time doing their best to get points for the team.”
The Generals hosted the Wooster Invitational Sept. 10. The race began at 9 a.m. with the varsity boys.
Published: September 7, 2011