By Josh Brown
WEST MILTON — For years, the same three names dominated the top of the standings at the Miami County Championships boys cross country meet.
Saturday, Bethel’s Korry Hamlin and Milton-Union’s Will Brock made good on their opportunity and took their turn.
Hamlin won the race in 16:28.1, with Brock right behind in 16:30.9 on a chilly and muddy morning at Milton-Union High School, with Tippecanoe (40 points) and Troy Christian (87 points) finishing first and second in the team standings.
As he crossed the finish line, Hamlin couldn’t help but raise his arms in elation, no matter how tired he was.
“No, not usually. It just felt good,” the Bethel junior said when asked if he normally displayed that kind of emotion at the end of a race. “It’s been my goal all season. I remember last year coming in fifth here, and it was my goal to be the best. Brock was pushing me, and (Piqua’s) Andy (Mayse) is a great runner. It felt great.”
The meet had been dominated by Tippecanoe’s Mitchell Poynter, Troy’s Stephen Jones and Newton’s Brady McBride in the past two or three seasons. Last year, the trio swept the top three spots, with Mayse in fourth, Hamlin fifth and Brock sixth. In 2014, Poynter and Jones were one-two, with Tippecanoe’s Daniel frame in third and McBride fourth — and Hamlin eighth and Brock 16th in their freshman year. And in 2013, it was Jones and Branden Nosker finishing in the top two spots with Poynter third.
“It feels awesome, feels great to finally be in the front like that and not be beat by those guys that graduated,” Brock said. “(Hamlin and I) were together from the gun, and the whole race we were together. About a mile and a half/two miles in, we just took off — and it was just me and him the rest of the race.”
For Hamlin, it was the icing on the cake of a huge week all around — he also scored the only goal in the Bethel boys soccer team’s 1-0 victory over Franklin Monroe on Thursday night, the Jets’ first loss in league play since 2011.
“I’ve only ran in three meets this year, because I also play soccer,” Hamlin said. “We had a big game against FM this week. Cross country helps condition me for soccer, and then I get my sprint workouts in soccer. I just don’t get much free time.”
Brock has had a successful season, too, and his time Saturday was the best a Milton-Union runner has ran on the course. But Brock and the Bulldogs are hoping for more success later in the year.
“I won at Princeton, and at Cedarville they ran the Division II and III guys together. I consider that a win, since I was the first D-III guy in,” Brock said with a laugh. “I’m hoping to run well at district and regional and hopefully place at state. Maybe win district or runner-up at district, top three at regionals, top 10 at state.”
Hamlin has his eyes on the state meet, too — for a number of reasons.
“I’d really like to be All-Ohio — and it’s funny, because state’s actually on my birthday,” Hamlin said. “But I’m not thinking about that quite yet. I’ve got to get there first.”
Tippecanoe’s boys, meanwhile, claimed four of the other eight top 10 spots, pulling away for an easy win in the team standings — their sixth in the past seven years. Michael Stearns finished third in 16:34.1, Keenan Fraylick was fifth in 17:19.8, Ben Jans was ninth in 17:28.4, Ethan Heitkamp was 10th in 17:29.4 and Ethan Sinning was 13th in 17:37.4.
“The guys are really coming on,” Tippecanoe coach Byron Kimmel said. “Even running today without Bryce Conley, who’s been our No. 1. He won Cedarville and was third out in Tennessee, but we’re being a little cautious. The rest of the guys, I was real pleased. Michael Stearns, he’s just a good racer. And Keenan’s been out with a stress fracture all year and is just getting back into shape.
“The three guys that really stepped up are Ben Jans, Ethan Heitkamp and Ethan Sinning. Those three guys ran PRs today and are really coming on. They’re what’s going to make us a state-qualifying team. We’ve got three solid runners, and we need a fourth, fifth and sixth — and they really stepped up today.”
Troy Christian was second with 87 points. Carter Ritchey was seventh (17:26.4), Nick Pratt was eighth (17:28.1), Isaac Flora was 19th (18:13), Robert Ventura was 21st (18:15) and Zach Davidson was 34th (18:39.4).
“Honestly, with the mud, we were not expecting PRs today,” Troy Christian coach Jeff McDaniel said. “Both Nick and Carter ran PRs, took 15-20 seconds off even. Zach pulled up as our fifth man and had a great race, took 20 seconds off his PR. The guys all ran great today.”
Milton-Union finished third with 94 points. After Brock, Shannon Milnickel was sixth (17:23.9), Tristen Persinger was 14th (17:40.4), Harrison Litton was 35th (18:40.2) and Caleb Black was 41st (18:48.6).
“We were hoping to be first or second today,” Milton-Union coach Michael Meredith said. “We were a state team last year, then we unexpectedly lost two of out top four runners coming into this season. So it ended up being almost a rebuilding year. But I was happy with how Will ran. He and Hamlin have had a nice rivalry for a few years now. They’ve ran against each other a lot.”
Miami East was fourth with 101 points. Gavin Horne finished 11th (17:30.2), Noah Shook was 15th (17:48.8), Justin DeWeese was 23rd (18:24.1), Alex Hayes was 24th (18:24.1) and Luke Mengos was 28th (18:30).
Troy was fifth with 125 points. Freshman Mike Griffith was 12th (17:30.9), Andy Smith was 17th (17:58.1), Seth Plantz was 25th (18:26.1), Carson Dehart was 37th (18:43.6) and Adam Falknor was 38th (18:45.6).
“They all ran really well,” Troy coach Phil Matthews said. “Finally it’s been a little cooler, so we’ve been able to run harder workouts. We had some PRs today, and we still have a young team that’s figuring out what it can do. We’ve got six to eight guys that are under 20 (minutes) right now, and that’s good because they’re only going to get better. We’ve only got one senior.”
Covington was sixth with 187 points. Zane Barhorst was 20th (18:13.8), Nathan Lyle was 28th (18:29.5), Dylan Kelly was 36th (18:43.6), Hunter Brumbaugh was 43rd (18:51.1) and Josh Sowers was 50th (19:14).
Piqua was seventh with 168 points, led by Mayse in fourth in 16:35.8. Mitch Fletcher was 31st (18:31.5), Dante Kemp was 42nd (18:50.6), Bradley McPherson was 51st (19:25.2) and Cameron Brown was 56th (19:40.5).
Newton was eighth with 198 points. Ryan Mollette was 16th (17:55.9), Tristen Benedict was 26th (18:28.6), Curtis Shellenberger was 48th (19:09.2), Charlie Walker was 75th (20:39) and Toby Hunt was 105th (23:34.7).
Bethel was ninth with 201 points. After Hamlin, Connor Whalen was 32nd (18:35.7), Max Schell was 71st (20:15.5), Jacob vanTilburg was 102nd (23:22) and Brandon Gilbert was 112th (25:06.7).
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.