By Josh Brown
WEST MILTON — Tippecanoe’s Bryce Conley didn’t get the chance to run in the Miami County Championships cross country meet as a freshman.
Saturday, he carried on a tradition among Red Devil runners by winning the Miami County meet, running a time of 16:14.8 and leading the Tippecanoe boys cross country team to an overall victory with 28 points to runner-up Milton-Union’s 89 Saturday at Milton-Union High School.
“Yeah, it definitely does,” the sophomore said. “Last year, not being able run made me mad, made me push myself a little more. It’s definitely a special day.”
Still, Conley had been hoping for a bit better time.
“I had a goal to try to break 16 (minutes),” Conley said. “That’s kind of rough with no one else up there. But I was trying to win, so it was good I got that. There was one kid from Troy Christian that pushed me at the beginning, but as soon as I got into the woods, I started to get a lead.”
“He wants that sub-16 time bad,” Tippecanoe coach Byron Kimmel said of Conley. “That’s a big number for cross country runners. That’s a big deal.”
And Kimmel said that seeing all of the previous Tippecanoe County champions on the recordboards at Milton-Union was a driving force Saturday, as well.
“He sees the great Tipp runners that have run here before on the recordboard over there — Sam Wharton, Mitchell Poynter, Jason Salyer — and he’s very motivated,” Kimmel said. “The boys team has only lost here once in the past 15 years. I really like where the boys team is at right now.”
Senior Ethan Sinning was third (16:53.3), Ethan Heitkamp was fifth (17:10.6), Brennan Larned was eighth (17:15.7) and Austin Rogers was 11th (17:28.8).
“The boys were fifth at the regional last year,” Kimmel said. “We had a streak of seven trips to state before that, and we were second, first and second in the three years right before. When we finished fifth at the regional, the boys were decimated. They take a lot of pride in maintaining the tradition of this program, and that’s awesome that the kids feel that strong a sense of tradition and want to continue it.
“I like where the boys are right now. I think we’ve got a top 10 team in the state at least — we’re ranked 11th right now.”
“We’re trying to get a top five finish,” Conley said. “I know we’re not ranked that high, but we think we can do it.”
The host Bulldogs were second with 89 points.
Shannon Milnickel was the individual runner-up in a time of 16:51.6. Will Brock was fourth (17:07.7), Tristen Persinger was 10th (17:22), Harrison Litton was 39th (18:43.3) and Cayden Galentine was 50th (19:04.1).
Troy Christian was third with 93 points. Robert Ventura was seventh (17:15.4), Nick Pratt was ninth (17:17.6), Isaac Flora was 20th (18:07.5), Zach Davidson was 30th (18:24.7) and Nate Hunnicutt was 36th (18:36.8).
Troy was fourth with 116 points. Andy Smith was 13th (17:37.8), Austin Zonner was 18th (18:04.4), Logan Huth was 23rd (18:16.3), Seth Plantz was 33rd (18:30.4) and Josh Lovitt was 42nd (18:47.9).
“They ran really, really well,” Troy coach Phil Matthews said. “And we had a good race at Centerville last week. Everyone has PRed for the year by at least 20 seconds. Greg Smith has never been in the 19s before, but he ran 19:44 today. When he started three years ago, he was in the mid-20s. Austin Zonner ran a good race, Andy Smith ran a good race. The guys are right where they should be.”
Miami East was fifth with 134 points. Gavin Horne was sixth (17:11.8), Taton Bertsch was 15th (17:58.3), Alex Hayes was 34th (18:35.2), Garrett LeMaster was 48th (18:59.8) and Keagan Carsey was 54th (19:08).
Bethel was sixth with 170 points. Kaleb Roberts was 24th (18:19.2), Cole Brannan was 35th (18:36.6), Wyatt Lee was 46th (18:56.6), Colton Smith was 47th (18:59) and Tyler Brueckman was 51st (19:05.5).
Covington was seventh with 177 points. Nathan Lyle was 25th (18:21.5), Bennett Welborn was 26th (18:21.7), Hunter Brumbaugh was 40th (18:45.3), Dylan Kelly was 59th (19:15.5) and Ian Benedict was 60th (19:18.6).
Bradford was eighth with 209 points, led by Johnny Fike (14th, 17:57.6). Piqua was ninth with 210 points, led by Preston Schaeffer (16th, 17:58.7). Newton was 10th with 230 points, led by Curtis Shellenberger (27th, 18:22).
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.