Hocker and Hart Remain Undefeated and IL Dominates NXRMW

Katelynne Hart leads the way at the 2018 NXRMW Champs

Nearly perfect weather allowed for some great racing to go down in Terre Haute, Indiana on Sunday for the2018 Nike Cross Midwest Regional Meet. There was some uncertainty coming into the meet since Ohio hosted their state meet just a day before and many teams and individuals were either not coming anymore or would not be able to race to their full potential. But don't worry the competition was still fierce as ever.

First up came the frosh/soph races. Both the boys and girls races looked pretty similar to each other, with a small little group of three or four together. But in the boy's race, we saw freshman Izaiah Steury from Angola High School break away from the rest of the pack in the last 400 meters or so, to take home his first major high school win in 16:26.2. Alpena, MI sophomore Drew Seabase took 2nd in 16:32.3.

In the girl's frosh/soph race, it was the sophomores that stole the show. Freshman Macy Schelp from St. Louis Lutheran South HS in Missouri took 1st in 19:39.5. Just last week she took 4th at the MO state champs. Just about five seconds behind her was Kalamazoo, MI sophomore Hannah Funkhouser in 19:44.8.

After the frosh/soph races, you could sense the energy level beginning to build as the first of three open races got going with Open 1 for the boys. This one was dominated by Indiana athletes, with three in the top five. Junior Jack Kovach from Indy Brebeuf Jesuit walked away with the win in 16:20.5. Right behind him was another Indiana athlete, Grant Wilson, aka the intern, finishing just one second behind in 16:21.

The open race has gotten so large in the Midwest that there are now two races, which are combined for awards and team scoring, so there was still one more race to go to determine the real winner here. Race two was dominated by Illinois runners who put three in the top five. The kid who walked away with the official open race win hails from Monticello HS in Illinois, senior Garrett Dixon. He crossed the line in 16:00.6, a whole 6 seconds ahead of 2nd, Fiker Rosen from Quincy. Olio Road Track Club, aka Hamilton Southeastern, put together the best team they could, scoring 113pts to win the team title.

The girls may not have two open races, but that didn't mean it wasn't as highly competitive as the boys. The lead group went through the first mile just around 5:25 or so, with a pack of about 5 girls at that time. A group of three started to breakaway not long after that, with Shelbville IL junior Ailey Mitchell, Oswego East freshman Madison Zarembski and Lulu Black going with each other and challenging the pace. These three went back and forth for a good K and a half with who was controlling the lead. In the end, Black, of Hamilton Southeastern, felt good to go and took home the win in 19:06.3. She told us afterwards, she was just using this race as a hard workout before racing at the Mideast Meet next weekend. Zarembski took 2nd in 19:12.5. The No Mas Running Club, aka Mason HS from OH, put together a stellar race after taking 4th in their state meet on Saturday to winning the open race here with 70pts and 4 of their 5 runners in the top 15.

Josh Methner leads the boys championship at about the 1K 

Finally, we make it to the most important races of the day, the championships, the race that could qualify you for a spot at the national championships.

First up the boys race. Here we were bound to see some of the best teams from IL go at it for one of those two team spots and potentially an Indiana team attempt to sneak in there. On the individual side, it looked like the stud Cole Hocker was going to do his thing and have little problem with grabbing another win on the season. One boy that was sure to be missing in the race, was Conant Smith from Ohio, who was unable to make the trip after the state meet. He will surely be an athlete to watch to potentially earn one of those new individual at large bids. 

Through the 1st mile, Cole Hocker and Josh Methner, led the way going about 4:43, with Methner taking the lead at the 2K mark, roughly a stride ahead of Hocker. Not much longer after that, Hocker took back over the lead at the 2 mile, coming through in about 9:45, just a heel strike ahead of Methner. The Cathedral High School Senior managed to find his usual groove of being in the front after that and held on to his slight lead, managing to extend it just slightly, coming across in 15:06.4. Methner held on to 2nd coming across in 15:12.1. 8 seconds behind him came the first Michigan runner, Corey Gorgas in 15:20.8.

The team race as they came across looked like it was going to be Wheaton Warrenville South's, but a surprise came as the awards were being announced. Hersey managed to pull off the win with 146pts to WWS 149pts. Having that low stick in Methner and their 4-5 runners really stepping up proved to be the game changers for them to earn a trip to the national meet. The top 5 boys teams all came out of Illinois, with the 6th place team being Cathedral from Indianapolis.

The race of the day, came last with the girls race. Just like the boys race, there was lots of hype surrounding this race. How fast would KK Hart be able to go, would IL be able to sweep this race? And with the movement of the Ohio state meet, how would this effect the dual threat Taylor Ewert? Well all of these questions got answered in under 20 minutes of the gun going off.

Through 1 mile there was a strong pack of about 4-6 runners going through in about 5:22. At the 2 mile, a few of the girls and fallen back a little and left Katelynne Hart running alongside Taylor Ewert and Alex Morris a stride behind them. Jump ahead to the 4K mark, Hart kept leading the race, just as she is used to doing throughout the entire season and pretty much her whole high school career thus far, coming through with a total time of 13:43. By now Ewert had dropped back just a little, about 10-15 meters back. In 2nd though was Naperville North senior Alex Morris just a stride behind Hart. Morris didn't let off and just let Hart take home another win, she kept right with her all the way through, with Hart winning in 17:14.9 and Morris in 2nd in 17:17.4. Taylor Ewert ran her race, taking 3rd in 17:33.7. Emma Wilson, who was runner-up last year took 4th in 17:41.8.

The girls team race was tough to count as they came through, but it appeared it was going to be another IL show with two of their teams grabbing auto-qualifying spots. In the end, Naperville North, who took 2nd at nationals last year, pulled off the win, led by Alex Morris with just 69pts. In 2nd, another Illinois team, Yorkville managed to score just 84pts. In 3rd, potentially up for an at-large bid, was Downers Grove South with 128pts.

Probably some of the more impressive performances came out of the teams and individuals who made the trip from Ohio after running in their state meet just 24hrs before. The Davidson girls managed to take 4th in the championships race, with four of their scorers scoring in the top 45.