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Cougars corral first NH Invitational title since ’83

North Harrison’s boys cross country crew used a promising youth movement to capture the 33rd annual North Harrison Invitational Thursday afternoon in Ramsey for the team’s first victory in the event since 1983.
The talented Cougars, who have no seniors, five juniors, three sophomores and a freshman, easily won the event by placing 59 points over second-place Silver Creek. South Central was ninth, Crawford County was 15th, Corydon Central 16th and Lanesville 17th in the 21-team meet.
New Albany’s Wes Seacat was the dominate runner of the boys 5K run, finishing in 16 minutes, 58 seconds, on a new layout around North’s new athletic complex. North’s Scott Robertson, who finished second, said Seacat — not the course — was just way too tough.
“I didn’t start out real fast the first mile,” said Robertson. “(Head coach Monty Schneider) told me to be in contention with the top four or five. (Seacat) stayed about 20 or 30 seconds ahead of me the whole time. He was too much. He’s in better shape than me right now. Hopefully, I can get him by the end of the season.”
After Robertson, the Cougars had three other runners in the top 10 with freshman Ryan Byrne fourth, Kyle Beckman fifth, and Andrew Wolsiefer eighth.
“The guys I had down low I thought would be low,” said Schneider. “I’ve got four guys that have been running very well all year. Scott fills first for us, but I think before the year is out we’re going to do some switching back and forth. They’ve run a lot a miles this summer and worked out together.
“Our boys are young. Of our top four, one is a junior, one is a freshman, and two sophomores. My fifth, sixth, and seventh are all juniors, and I think they’ll get much better. Most meets aren’t going to be this big. We’ve got all the big schools here. I don’t think most of these would be down as far as they were.”
With his group of strong, youthful runners, Schneider said the Cougars have high hopes of repeating as regional champions.
“I think we’ve got a good shot at it,” said Schneider. “We’ve got some other strong teams in our regional area. We’ll see them a lot of times at different times of the year, but we won’t be in a meet this big for a while.”
South’s top runner was Lyndal Woosley, who was 14. Rebel coach Greg Robinson said the meet was an early-season litmus test to see where his team stood and what it needs to improve upon.
“Basically, we want to beat Eastern for the Southern Athletic Conference,” Robinson said. “We are always an end-of-the-year team anyway, so today we just wanted to run decent in a good meet against some good competition and find out where we stood.
“Kevin Hanson, who plays tennis, will be coming along, and Lyndal and Jared Wilkerson are our top guys right now, and I doubt that’ll change much. We just want to find out what we can do, training-wise, to improve the team.”
Corydon’s squad, which is going through a bit of a rebuilding year, got boxed in at the start and came up short in a bid to place a runner in the top 15.
On the girls’ side, Winter Holman continued her string of NH Invitational wins by capturing first place in 16:28 in the 4K race, followed by Megan Rainville of Floyd Central.
For the first time in years, no Harrison County girls finished in the top 15.
Just over a mile into the race, Holman lead Rainville by about 65 meters. Other runners near the top 20 at that point were Crawford County’s Megan Kelly, Corydon’s Sunny Hipple and Sarah Esarey, and North Harrison’s Mariah Yates, who all ran together in a small group. Yates was 21st at two miles, two positions ahead of Kelly, who was two positions ahead of Esarey and Hipple.
Yates finished 25th and Kelly was 26th while Esarey and Hipple finished 27th and 29th, respectively.
Yates is trying make her own mark on the 2001-02 season after following all-stater Casey Schneider the past three seasons. Yates won the Little Four meet two weeks ago, but fell ill in Thursday’s race and didn’t finish where she had hoped.
“I wanted the top 20. I wasn’t feeling strong enough. I didn’t have it today. Before I started the race Tuesday, I had a 101 temperature. I wasn’t going to run, but I didn’t want a Corydon girl to win on our course. I knew they were there. We ran the whole back of the course together.”
Yates said trying to fill Schneider’s shoes is a real challenge.
“It just makes me want to run harder and, hopefully, make it to state on my own,” Yates said. “I need to get a lot of speed work. I have the endurance. I just don’t have a lot of speed to go with it.”
Notes: Runners at the Invitational had to take a slight detour around the construction that’s taking place on the site of the Cougars’ new baseball field. The deluxe pressbox is already in place, as are the spacious dugouts, scoreboard supports and irrigation system.
North’s current diamond will be in use until 2003, when it will be changed into the Lady Cats’ softball field.
“We want to give the grass a chance to come in really well at the new field,” North baseball coach Danny Schmidt said.