Milton Cross Country Makes Statement in Virginia
The top-ranked boy’s team wins top-regional meet in dominating fashion
By Andy Carr
The Milton High School Cross Country teams sent their top runners to the Knights Crossing Invitational in Salem, VA for the third time in four years and came away with two team wins and a national-level performance. Hosted by Cave Spring HS, the meet, in its 14th year, hosted many out-of-state teams from Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, Tennessee & North Carolina.
The all-class top-ranked Eagles bested 32 schools in their winning effort. Milton (1st-24 pts) was clearly the dominate team having 6 finishers in the top-15 overall positions. Scottsboro (AL) (2nd-178 pts) & Pulaski County (VA) (3rd-193 pts) followed. The Eagles used a 15:35 top-5 average to overwhelm the field of 283 finishers. Senior Sam Bowers (1st-15:06) captured the race win in dramatic fashion with a strong last ditch kick to best VA state 3A champion Karl Thiessen (2nd-15:09) of Abingdon. Bowers was in the lead group the entire race and led a short time with about 800m to go but came up on Thiessen with less than 150m to go and kicked for the win! BOTH runners best the previous meet record of 15:21 just set last year by a wide margin. Fellow senior Nicholas Yanek (3rd-15:22) just missed the old meet record but was in the front of the race through the mile and was still in contention just before two miles when Bowers & Thiessen moved past. The Eagles dominated the top-10 with senior Michael Malkowski (5th-15:43) just missing his all-time best followed closely by fellow senior Dru Milton (6th-15:47) who produced a 25-second personal best! Not to be outdone, junior Luke Bonneville (10th-15:57) concluded the scoring for Milton with a 12-second personal best performance! Senior Ryan Bietzell (15th-16:18) & freshman Hayden Marshall (27th-16:37) followed to mark a historic performance and victory for the Eagles!
The Lady Eagles had a tough task as they faced-off against 12th-ranked in the nation Blacksburg (VA) (1st-28 pts) without their #3 runner but Milton (2nd-88 pts) held their own and bested 29 scoring schools! Western Albemarle (VA) (3rd-136 pts) trailed. A very small spread of only 33-seconds among its scorers made the Lady Eagles a contender throughout the contest along with a 19:48 average among it’s top-5 finishers. Even with no finishers in the top-10, Milton (ranked 4th All-Class in GA) was clearly the next best team in a race with 249 finishers. Sophomore Abby Rindt (13th-19:33) was in the top-15 the entire race and led the Lady Eagle effort but it was the close pack of finishers that followed that propelled Milton to the runner-up team finish. Senior captain Emily Bowers (16th-19:45), juniors Taylor Cushman (18th-19:47) & Faith Wagner (19th-19:48) & senior captain Jessie Barnes (27th-20:06) all finished within 21 seconds of each other to close out the team scoring. Senior Adriana Christensen (26th-20:39) followed in a personal best performance.
Following suit, Milton (1st-24 pts) dominated the race with 6 finishers in the top-11 besting 27 scoring schools. Pulaski County (2nd-80 pts) & Franklin County (VA) (3rd-82 pts) trailed by a wide margin. Leading the charge was sophomore Joe Pick (2nd-17:38) and was closely followed by junior Anish Gupta (4th-17:52), senior captain Jack “JR” Rush (5th-17:52) and fellow seniors Austin Meuller (8th-18:10) & captain Eli Jones (9th-18:11). Also receiving a medal was early leader junior Gavin Roman (12th-18:13).
In a very close contest the Lady Eagles snagged the last team trophy of the meet. Milton (3rd-69 pts) bested 5 schools but lost to Oakton (VA) (1st-43 pts) & Western Albemarle (2nd-67 pts) and bested Blacksburg (4th-69 pts) by the 6th-finisher tie-breaker for the 2nd time this season! The Lady Eagles put 5 finishers in the top-25 and all of them between 10th-25th place! Freshman Audrey Nichols (10th-22:39) maintained a spot in the top-10 the entire race to lead Milton. Junior Emma Pettit (13th-22:42), senior Jocie Toner (16th-22:53) & juniors Peyton Stanley (18th-22:57) & Viky Kangas (23rd-23:07) comprised a very close & tight pack a Lady Eagle finishers with only a 28-second spread! But it was the running of Megan Erbey (28th-23:29) that lead another tight group of 5 Milton finishers over the next 9 seconds to best Blacksburg’s 6th runner to garner the 3rd place team trophy!
The remainder of the team competed in the Marist Double Dip Invitational at Marist School with the top-finishers being:
Girls JV-Kristen Van (41st-25:16) (Milton 7th, 213 pts)
Boys JV-Spencer Watry (61st-20:31) (Milton-8th, 291 pts)
Girls Open (2 miles)-Lauren Crawford (6th-15:10) (Milton-2nd, 63 pts)
Boys Open (2 miles)-Andrew Krauser (3rd-12:44) (Milton-1st, 33 pts)
Boys 1st Year/Freshman (2 miles)-Allie Mitelman (12th-15:46) (Milton-4th, 100 pts)
Girls 1st Year/Freshman (2 miles)-Zion Cloud (26th-13:27) (Milton-6th, 205 pts)