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PREP CROSS COUNTRY: Shepherd girls continue TVC Central dominance, while Bluejay boys also clinch conference title

Shepherd runners Kaylie Rhynard (173), Taylor Thrush (174) and Katelyn Hutchinson (162) pace the pack in the first mile of the TVC Central Jamboree #3 at Shepherd High School Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. They finished 1-2-3 with Taylor Priest finishing fourth and Kylie Hutchinson coming in sixth. (Photo by Skip Traynor)

Shepherd's Tyler Travis (195) battles Alma's Collin Lott (15) and Bullock Creek's John Sira (108) at the finish line of the TVC Central Jamboree #3 at the Shepherd High School cross country course Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. (Photo by Skip Traynor)

Alma runner Rachel Kolb (5) pulls away from Swan Valley runner Claudia Raines (143) and Chesaning runner Madison Krupp (20) in the first mile of the TVC Central Jamboree #3 at Shepherd High School Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. (Photo by Skip Traynor)

Alma's Jake Morey turns in the best time for Alma at the TVC Central Jamboree #3 at the Shepherd High School cross country course Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. (Photo by Skip Traynor)

Four straight years of domination.

The Shepherd High School girls cross country team won its fourth consecutive Tri-Valley Conference Central championship Tuesday and even better competed the feat on its home course, ending the third jamboree with a near-perfect score of 16 points. Freeland took second on the day with 95 points while Alma was fifth (135). Ovid-Elsie took second in the final TVC Central standings behind the Bluejays.

In these four years of TVC Central excellence, the Bluejays’ senior class, which includes two of its top four runners in Kaylie Rhynard and Taylor Priest, have not lost a single conference jamboree.

“The fact that these seniors have never lost a conference meet just shows how outstanding they have been,” said Shepherd girls cross country coach Carey Hammel. “And for them to run their final conference meet at home and win it here, that is even more special.”

Even better for the Bluejays, their boys team made it a clean sweep on the day as they placed first with 58 points while Bullock Creek was second (65). With a third straight TVC Central jamboree win, Shepherd clinched the conference title ahead of Bullock Creek.

The Bluejay boys, which had a trememdous string of success some years back that included a Division 3 state title in 2008 and a conference title as recently as 2010, spent the last couple of years rebuilding the program.

Now with a young and hard-working roster, Shepherd has risen back to the top of the TVC Central.

“This year has been a resurgence for our program,” said Bluejays boys coach Rick Cahoon. “Our middle school boys last year finished first in all five of their meets, so we knew there was some nice talent coming into the high school ranks. Our few seniors have been great for us, but our younger kids have been excellent as well. It’s been a total team effort.”

Of the 22 runners on the Shepherd roster, only three are seniors.

Walker Priest paced the Bluejays as he was fifth (17:16.3), while Tyler Travis finished eighth (17:22.3) and Andrew Hutchinson claimed 11th (17:38.4). Jacob Pifer finished 16th (17:51.4) and Owen Howard was 18th (18:06.1).

Priest and Tyler Travis both earned first team All-TVC Central honors, while Hutchinson was second team and Pifer honorable mention.

While the Bluejay boys were a bit of a surprise this season, Shepherd’s girls did exactly what was expected of them.

Rhynard, who has finished as high as fifth at the cross country state finals during her illustrious prep career, won Tuesday’s race in a time of 19:06.4. Taylor Thrush placed second (19:08.4), while Katelyn Hutchinson was third (19:39.4) and Priest fourth (20:16.7). Kylie Hutchinson rounded out the scoring by taking sixth (20:34.6).

Thrush was named league MVP after winning the first two conference jamborees, while she was joined on the first team by a plethora of teammates. Rhynard, Thrush, Priest, and both Hutchinsons all were named to the TVC Central first team in addition to Thrush. Rachel Mathers, Sarah Bellinger, and Katie Powell all picked up second team recognition. Rachel Buckley and Rachel Travis were honorable mention.

Alma was led on the boys side by Jake Morey, who earned first team honors after finishing third (16:42.4). Collin Lott took seventh (17:22.3) and Dominic Garcia was 10th (17:29) to both pick up second team recognition. Hayden Bailey finished 31st (19:00.7) and Juan Rodriguez 59th (21:06) to complete the Alma scoring.

For the Panthers girls, Rachel Kolb placed ninth (21:17.7) and Seraphina Provenzano 17th (22:17.7) to each pick up second team honors. Alli Munger ran to 19th (22:24.8), while Sky Grossett was 58th (27:00.9) and Sierra Wrisley 62nd (27:47.6).



Last Updated: 10/9/2013 4:13:50 PM EST

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