DARLINGTON – The Darlington girls’ cross country team dug deep to hold off the Alumni squad to win their 14th straight season opening race, but the Redbird men’s Alumni team ended a 14-year drought by nipping the varsity squad by a point at the 33rd annual Darlington Alumni Cross Country Meet held at the DHS course on Saturday, Aug. 26.
The Alumni placed three runners among the top four finishers in the girls’ race, however nine consecutive varsity runners crossed the finish line behind the Alumni’s third runner to lift the Lady Redbirds to a 29-30 victory to start the day.
The Redbird boys’ varsity and Alumni battled it out the entire race with each squad placing their five scoring runners among the top 10 finishers. On the strength of a 1-2 finish, the former Darlington runners edged the varsity, 27-28, for the team’s first victory since 2002.
Johanna Meister, class of 2015, won the girls’ 5,000-meter race in a time of 20:39. She was followed in by Darlington assistant coach Rebecca Mathias, class of 2013, who placed second in 21:20.
Senior Reghan Komprood finished third in 21:48, followed by class of 2017’s Paige Schilling in fourth at 21:59. Junior Ilse Mendez placed fifth in 22:37, followed by seniors Erin Wolf (22:53) and Emma Crist (23:19) and sophomore Maddie Crist (23:33) as the Lady ‘Birds secured spots five through 13 to lock up the victory.
Claire Cullen , who joined Meister and Mathias on Darlington’s 2012 state runner-up team, was the Alumni team fourth runner in 14th-place at 25:34, while Bailey McDonald , who joined Schilling on last year’s state championship team, finished 15th in 25:41 to complete the team scoring for the former ‘Birds.
Conner Hackett, class of 2017, gave the Alumni teams a sweep of the individual titles by winning the boys’ 5,000-meter race ahead of teammate Kent Miehe, class of 2012, who pulled in second in 17:58.
Junior Payton Heinberg came in third in 18:02, followed by senior Tanner Evenstad and junior Tucker Lange in fourth and fifth, respectively, in 18:08 and 18:18 for the varsity squad.
Brian McIntyre, class of 1996, pulled in sixth in 18:50, while Class of 2016’s Sean Barbee and Blake Cwynar placed eighth and 10th, respectively, in 19:17 and 19:30 to secure the victory for the Alumni team.
Hackett was a member of four state title teams from 2013-16 with Barbee and Cwynar joining him as state champs in ’13-15. Miehe was a state titlist in 2011, while McIntyre was a member of the Redbirds’ state runner-up teams in 1993-95.
Junior Trae Schilling was seventh in 19:15 and sophomore Bailey Schwartz was ninth in 19:24 for the varsity, who was competing without a key member of this year’s team, senior Paul King, who had to miss the meet due to a family obligation.
The Darlington teams swept the Division 3 state championship titles at the 2016 WIAA State Meet; and with six runners coming back for the boys’ team and five returning for the girls’ team this season, they are strong contenders to repeat the feat this year. But, Coach Miehe knows that it won’t be an easy task.
The lessons learned from Saturday’s Alumni Meet will only help strengthen the two teams as the Redbirds seek their seventh straight state title and the Lady Redbirds are looking to capture their second crown.
“I was pleased with the girls’ race. Our varsity ran faster than they did last year and our junior varsity top seven runners were 12 minutes faster than last year,” mentioned Darlington head coach Arnie Miehe. “The guys were a little slower than last year due mainly to the fact that it was a tactical race and they didn’t get out as fast as usual. But, like in the girls’ race, the junior varsity was much improved. We had some very good races by some young runners. The meet this Saturday will give us a good idea where we are sitting at this time of the year.”
Saturday’s meet also kicked off the 50th season of the cross country program at DHS. Several members of the Redbirds’ first team of 1968 were on hand to celebrate the start of the 50th season, and two of those team members competed in the boys’ race with Bill DeRocher, class of ’72, placing 31st in 24:11, and Charlie Paytner, class of ’71, finishing 37th in 27:25.
The Redbirds will host the 2017 Darlington Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 8:45 a.m.
2017 DARLINGTON ALUMNI MEET
Lady Redbirds Varsity 29, Alumni 30
Other Results: Varsity– 9- Gracie Douglas, 24:14; 10- Brooke Douglas, 24:39; 11- Bethany McDonald, 24:56; 12- Aliyah Gould, 25:09; 13- Meghan Douglas, 25:18; 17- Morgan Black, 26:51; 18- Layla McDermott, 26:57; 22- Kelly Wick, 28:53; 23- Lauren Jones, 30:30; 24- Nattie Soper, 30:48; 25- Kaitlyn Johnson, 31:51; 26- Gracey McDermott, 32:41, 27- Lauren Weber, 39:37. Alumni– 16- Heather Larson , 26:33; 19- Ann Miehe , 27:31; 20- Steph Meyers Kraus , 27:31; 21- Cara Carper , 27:33.
Alumni 27, Redbirds Varsity 28
Other Results: Varsity– 12- Miles Carper, 19:54; 13- Willie Riechers, 20:04; 14- Curtis Blosch, 20:06; 17- Preston Banfield, 20:27; 19- Michael Thompson, 20:28; 23- Cristian Gutierrez, 21:45; 25- Andrew Merriam, 21:59; 26- Daniel Maurer, 22:00; 29- Michael Garcia, 23:39; 30- Alexis Cruz, 23:51; 32- Riley Jones, 24:12; 34- Brandon Hardt, 26:07; 35- Seth Johnson, 26:12. Alumni– 11- Dane Siegenthaler , 19:46; 15- James Schuetz , 20:21; 16- Tomas Zander , 20:26; 18- Jaden Komprood , 20:27; 20- Quinn Cullen , 21:14; 21- Aaron Roelli , 21:19; 22- Patrick Roche , 21:44; 24- Robert Martin , 21:53; 27- Jared Meister , 22:26; 28- Garth Garrison , 22:56; 31- Bill DeRocher , 24:11; 33- Philip Roche , 25:30; 36- Philip Roche , 27:06; 37- Charlie Paytner , 27:25; 38- Ryan Boatman , 31:18; 39- Hassan Cheaito , 32:22