Heartland Runners take on another Muddy RXC Championship

Several athletes from across the Heartland region made their way down to Huntsville, Alabama where the rain poured for the the 2023 RunningLane Cross Country Championships, mirroring last year's muddy conditions. 

RunningLane National Championship Coverage

Boys Gold Division Race

In the boys gold division championship race it was Alabama native Daniel Skandera taking the tape with a time of 15:05.3. Close behind in second was Junior Allen from Virginia with a 15:15.0. Tennessee's Matteo Tonnos would round off the top 3 with a time of 15:16.9.

The top finisher from the region would be Indiana's Liam Bauschke from Mishawaka High School. Liam would work his way up to the front of the field early establishing himself in the top 10 by the first kilometer. 

He would hang with the leaders all the way to a 6th place finish, just nearly missing his PR despite tough racing conditions. His time would end up being 15:22.1 and good enough to earn him the title of 1st Team All-American. Bauschke recently ran a PR at the Foot Locker Midwest regional last weekend where he would run a 15:15.91 nearly qualifying for FL Nationals with a 12 place finish.

Also from Indiana was
Center Grove's Gavin RockwellRockwell recently finished 5th at the Mid-East Championships. This weekend he was able to run to an 18th place finish in 15:33.4, just missing out on his PR, which was from Nike Twilight at LaVern Gibson earlier this year. His top 20 performance earned himself the title of 2nd Team All-American.

Ohio's top finisher would be
Will Baker from Mount Gilead. The Junior would run to a 27th place finish with a time of 15:37.0 to cap off a season of consistent improvement. Baker was 4th at the D3 Ohio State Championships and holds a PR of 15:17.0 from the KMAC XC Championship back in October.

Nolan Pinion from Lake Fenton in Michigan would take 31st overall in a time of 15:38.7. This was the senior's third best time of the season despite unfavorable conditions. He finished immediately behind previously mentioned Gavin Rockwell at the Mid-East Championships and was the 15th place finisher at the Michigan D2 LP state finals. 

Fellow Michigander 
Ty Parker from Walled Lake Northern would be the next finisher out of the group with a 36th place finish in a 15:40.9, only 8 seconds off his time from the state meet where he finished 19th in the D1 LP race.  

In 60th place for the Hoosier state was Ian Baker from Brownsburg running a 15:54.3. The junior has seen a season of great improvement including an impressive 10th place place finish at the IHSAA state finals and PR of 15:17.05 from the HCC Championships.

Zane Meyer from Edgewood who finished right next to Baker with a 15:54.4. Meyer was another runner close to a PR despite the conditions. Meyer has had another cross country season of considerable imrovement where he nearly had a podium finish with his 28th place effort at the IHSAA state meet.

Aiden Moore from Battle Creek Lakeview in Michigan rounded off the region's sub 16 minute performances with a 70th place 15:56.8 effort. Aiden had 11 victories this cross country season highlighted by a 15:10.34 PR from the Otsego Bulldog Invite.

Skyridge from Utah would win a narrow boys team race by 13 points over Farragut from Tennessee. Indiana was the only state from the region to field teams with four squads. In the top 10 was Royals Running Club (Hamilton Southeastern) who finished 6th with 208 points, Brownsburg Distance Club (Brownsburg) was right behind in 7th with 243 points and Columbus Thorn (Columbus North) was 10th with 295 points. The Warthan Track Club (Bloomington North) would take 13th out of the 21 team field with 323 points.

Girls Gold Division Race

In the girls gold division race Ohio's Evelyn Prodoehl from Lakota West went straight towards the front pack where she would bide her time until making a decisive move in the last kilometer to gap the field and win by just over 7 seconds with a time of 17:32.8.

The Ohio D1 champion continued her perfect season with her 11th consecutive win this season which includes a sub 17 minute performance from the GMC Championships back in mid October.

Behind Prodoehl was Virginia's
Sadie Adams from The Covenant School who was one spot off of qualifying from the Foot Locker South region with an 11th place finish where she ran a 17:14.74. She would run a 17:40.0 in today's unideal conditions with North Carolina's Morgan Boonshaft from Providence Day School rounding out the top 3 with a time of 17:44.6.

Behind Prodoehl from the heartland was Michigan's
Gail Vaikutis from St. Joseph with a 4th place finish in 17:48.5. She would gradually work her way up the field improving her positioning at each split. The Michigan commit and D2 LP runner-up has had an excellent season where she nearly qualified for NXN as Indiana's Julia Score took the last at-large bid immediately ahead of Vaikutis' 17:29.4 effort at NXR Midwest. 

Nicki Southerland got out to 6th at the mile and held steady with her positioning throughout the race as she was able to finish with a 17:50.5. The Notre Dame commit and Indiana state runner-up recently qualified for Foot Locker with a 5th place finish last weekend at the Midwest regional before becoming a RunningLane 1st Team All-American this weekend.

One of Illinois' standout runners
Scout Storms from Barrington ran up front going through the mile in 4th with a sub 5:30 split. She would stay up front to secure a top 10 peformance in 7th and earn the honors of 1st team All-American. Storm had a near perfect season in the 3 mile where she won all but one race including the 3A state championship.

The last 1st team performance for the heartland region belongs to her teammate
Mia Sirois. The freshman has had an impressive season where she recorded Illinois' third fastest time for a freshman. This weekend she was able spin a 5K time only 9 seconds slower than her time at NXR Midwest despite bad course conditions.

The Heartland region also saw a pair of 2nd team All-Americans with Wisconsin's
Mackenzie Babcock from Monona Grove and Illinois' Natalie Bierbaum from Normal (University) with 17th and 18th place finishers respectively.

Mackenzie has been incredibly consistent with her placements this post season as she was 18th at NXR Heartland, where she ran a season best 17:58.8, 18th at Foot Locker Midwest, and 17th this weekend with a 18:13.3. Bierbaum, a sophomore, recently ran to an impressive 20th place finish at LaVern Gibson for the NXR Midwest Championships with a 17:50.3 after running to a 4th place finish at the Illinois 2A state meet.

The girls gold race featured the Dark Horse Distance Project (
Barrington) and Columbus Thorn (Columbus North). The Dark Horse Project would finish in a close 2nd to Fossil XC (Fossil Ridge) by 18 points. Columbus Thorn would finish 17th in the field with 381 points.

Other top runners in the region that finished with sub 19 minute efforts included the following girls:
26th -
Jessica Hegedus - 18:25.8
29th -
Anya Zoeller - 18:30.4 (8th grader from Pendleton!)
30th -
Maggie Powers - 18:31.3
42nd -
Lucia Rodbro - 18:40.4
48th -
Liz Smith - 18:45.5
58th -
Hannah Moore - 18:50.4
62nd -
Maddie Graber - 18:53.3
71st -
Zoe Carter - 18:58.3

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