By David Fong
WEST MILTON — Bryce Conley didn’t feel as though he ran his best race.
But considering all he’s been through the last six months — and considering he still did well enough to successfully defend his Miami County Cross Country Championship crown and lead his team to a runaway win Saturday at Lowry Park — the Tippecanoe junior couldn’t be too upset with his performance.
“It’s definitely not my PR, but I’m not too upset,” Conely said after winning the Miami County title in 16:33.7. “I had a stress fracture and couldn’t really train all summer. This was only my second 5K this year. My other one was at Michigan State. I felt pretty good (Saturday). Based on last year, I felt like I had a pretty good chance of winning again.”
Newton freshman Ben Hoover took second overall (16:43.9), while Troy’s Braden Coate was third (16:48.7).
Conley led a Tippecanoe team that seven runners place in the top 15. Brennan Larned placed fourth (16:52.9), Landen Fraylick was sixth (16:59.4), Allan Murray was eighth (17:13.2), Ethan Heitkamp was ninth (17:14.1), Brayden Underwood was 13th (17:28.9) and Trenton Brown was 15th (17:28.9).
“We have been pretty careful with him,” Tippecanoe coach Byron Kimmel said of Conley. “He actually ran on that stress fracture last spring during track season. We are actually training him different than we are everybody else to work on his fitness. We are working him harder, while not working the other guys as hard, because he has catching up to do.
“I thought our boys ran a good race. We are so deep, we could possibly make another run in the postseason. I thought Brennan Larned ran a solid No. 2 race for us. It was good to see some other guys step up, too. I thought they all did a good job.”
Troy finished second with 57 points. In addition to Coate’s third-place finish, Josh Lovitt was 10th (17:15.8), Austin Zonner was 11th (17:24.8), Will Schaefer was 20th (17:46.8), Keegan Potts was 28th (18:15.2), Seth Plantz was 33rd (18:30.6) and Logan Huth was 34th (18:31.5).
Troy Chritsian only had four runners competing, but two placed in the top seven. Nick Pratt was fifth (16:56.7), Robert Ventura was seventh (17:07.4), Nate Hunnicutt was 39th (18:39.2) and Aiden Tkach was 78th (19:58.4).
Newton placed third with 120 points. In addition to Hoover, the top finishers for the Indians were: Owen Via (32nd, 18:30.3), Curtis Shellenberger (35th, 18:33.5), Jacob Moore (51st, 19:02.1) and Robert Ingle (62nd, 19:30.1).
Milton-Union was fourth with 129 points. The top finishers for the Bulldogs were: Tristen Persinger (12th, 17:27.2), Chris Miller (17:51.4), Harrison Litton (40th, 18:43.4), Josh Woodell (58th, 19:17.2) and Cayden Galentine (64th, 19:33.6).
Piqua was fifth with 129 points. The top finishers for the Indians were: Nolan Campbell (14th, 17:31.2), Mitch Fletcher (19th, 17:45.3), Gaven Barnes (44th, 18:50.2), Paul Hinds (47th, 18:52.7) and Roy Moreaux (71st, 19:46.5).
Bethel was sixth with 141 points. The top finishers for the Bees were: Trent Schweikhardt (22nd, 17:54.3), Cole Brennan (29th, 18:16.7), Kaleb Roberts (45th, 18:51.9), Colton Smith (54th, 19:08.9) and Wyatt Leet (63rd, 19:32.8).
Covington was seventh with 164 points. The top finishers for the Buccaneers were: Bennet Welborn (18th, 17:44.4), Owen Boehringer (56th, 19:12.5), Fletcher Metz (60th, 19:20.1), Ian Benedict (61st, 19:23.2) and Owen Rawson (69th, 19:42.2).
Miami East was eighth with 184 points. The top finishers for the Vikings were: Alex Hayes (23rd, 17:59.6), Cam Richter (26th, 18:06.4), Michael Blair (72nd, 19:47.2), Garrett Lemaster (73rd, 19:49.3) and Adam Bensman (88th, 20:34.6).
Bradford was ninth with 258 points. The top finishers for the Railroaders were: Jackson Moore (53rd, 19:081.), Jay Roberts (76th, 19:50.8), Aidan Beachler (100th, 20:51.6), Shane Bryan (128th, 22:31.4) and Jared Shellabarger (23:01.9).
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Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong