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PREP CROSS COUNTRY: Depth propels Ithaca girls to TVC West title

Breckenridge, St. Louis finish second and third

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In last week’s high school cross country rankings there were nine area teams ranked in the top 10.

In terms of the local crowd the Division 3 and Division 4 girls rankings were absolutely stacked with Ithaca, Shepherd and Clare all figuring into the mix in D3 and Breckenridge, Beal City and Montabella doing the same in D4.

On Tuesday a pair of these teams won conference titles as seventh-ranked Ithaca won the Tri-Valley Conference West title at St. Louis’ Hidden Oaks Golf Course while top-ranked Shepherd won the TVC Central crown at home.

Of all of these teams though there is no other built for the long haul like Ithaca is in that its top seven runners are either freshmen or sophomores.

In Tuesday’s meet the Yellowjackets were impressive as they won their third and final TVC West jamboree of the season by six points over runner-up Breckenridge, which is ranked second in D4.

As it was Ithaca tallied 37 points on the day while Breckenridge was second with 43 and St. Louis third with 44. For the 2013 season Ithaca won the title, its first since 2011, while Breckenridge eked out second by a single point over third-place St. Louis.

“We just came off homecoming week so that’s always a concern, but I thought we ran well today,” said Ithaca coach Gene LeBron. “They looked tired, but ran tough and in the end they pushed through and got the win.”

All of Ithaca’s scoring runners finished in the top-13 Tuesday, which was vital because Breckenridge finished first and second and had all its scoring runners land in the top-20. Moreover host St. Louis was equally tough with its top five landing in the top-12.

“Coming into today we pretty much knew if we finished first, second or third we’d have it wrapped up,” LeBron added. “They did what they had to do although our times weren’t particularly fast. For us you look at how you match up against people and we match up pretty well. St. Louis ran an incredible race and Breckenridge always has that strong one-two punch so we always have a good gauge of where we are because of the awesome teams we have to run against every week.”

As for what seperated the ‘Jackets from the field, basically it comes down to depth as it finished third, fifth, sixth, 10th and 13th.

Conversely Breckenridge was first, second, seventh, 14th and 20th. St. Louis also landed fourth, eighth, ninth, 11th and 12th.

“A lot of depth really,” said LeBron. “With Breckenridge finishing as it did we have to really come strong from there or it’s a wash for them.”

Sophomore Blaire Showers, who finished sixth in 20:50.8, said of winning the title, “We’ve worked really, really hard this season and it’s all really just paid off. (The course) was difficult but we didn’t let it set into our heads, we just went out and got it. Our goal was to go out and win the third one and make it ours.”

Courtney Allen (19:40.6) led the way as she was third while Kurstin Kalisek (20:18.2) fifth, Showers sixth, Hannah Thayer (21:31.6) 10th and Erica Sheahan (22:03.5) 13th.

Kirsten Olling (18:32.9) won the meet for Breckenridge with Dominique Adams (19:37.8) second, Rachel Reiber (20:52.1) seventh, Lindsay Hoard (22:03.9) 14th and Ayanna Williams (22:50.4) 20th.

Hannah Davis (20:11.9) led St. Louis in fourth with Mallory Munderloh (20:56.0) eighth, Sophia Bradley (21:13.2) ninth, Michaela Smith (21:46.4) 11th and Bethany Gurnee (21:48.8) 12th.

Michigan Lutheran Seminary was fourth in the meet with 127 points with Merrill fifth with 148 and Valley Lutheran sixth with 164.

Ithaca’s Allen and Kalisek made the first-team All-TVC West team with Showers, Alyssa Mankey, Amelia Freestone and Thayer earning second-team honors. Sheahan also made the HM team.

Olling, Adams and Reiber were first-team for Breckenridge with Hoard earning second-team honors.

For St. Louis Davis and Bradley were on the first-team with Munderloh and Smith on the second-team. Gurnee and Megan Brown made the HM team as well.

Last Updated: 10/8/2013 7:32:03 PM EST