XC event returns for first time since 2004 –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
It had been a long time coming, but the “Dog Pack Challenge” finally returned on Sept. 19 to Manchester High School. The cross-country invitational made its first appearance in Greyhound Land since 2004, and a new course was developed by the MHS XC staff and some able volunteers, moving around some of the new construction that has taken place there in the past 13 years.
One of the new trends that has caught fire here in Adams County is that of getting kids in elementary school to start running at an early age. In Manchester they call themselves the “Lil’ Pups” and they joined elementary runners from North Adams and West Union for two races that began the challenge. The youngest of the two, mostly third graders, ran a half-mile, while the next group, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, ran a full mile in a fitting introduction to the junior high and high school races to come.
The junior high girls were the first to gather in the west end zone of Greyhound Stadium, which was the starting point for all of the day’s races. A total of 22 girls competed and leading the way across the finish line as she has many times this season as Manchester’s own McKenzie Morrison in a time of 13:54.86. Second place went to West Union’s Adelyn Shupert in a time of 14:15.94 and then the next six spots all went to runners from Eastern Brown Junior High. The rest of the runners from Adams County to complete the 2.1 mile course were Makenna Armstrong, West Union (12th); Sophie Johnson, West Union (13th), Kendall Barlow, Manchester (14th), Joy Nelms, West Union (16th), Lauren Grooms, West Union (18th), and Zoie Flores, West Union (20th).
Only two teams had enough runners in the junior high girls race to tally a team score, with Eastern Brown first and West Union second.
Next up were junior high boys with 25 runners competing. The winner was Eastern Brown’s Avery Reynolds (12:44.53) and the first young man from Adams County to come down the finish chute was West Union’s Cameron Campbell (14:08.21). Manchester’s Rylan Wikoff was 10th (14:47.22), with his Greyhound teammates Kris Saunders, Carver Morgan, and Logan Bell in 12th through 14th places respectively.
Manchester’s Jai Brookbank was 18th with teammate Bradyn Jones right behind in 19th.
There were three junior high boys teams with enough runners to field a team scores with Eastern Brown first, Ripley second, and Manchester third.
Fourteen high school girls stepped to the start line for the “Dog Pack Challenge”, taking on the 3.1 mile course that included two tough hills to climb in the final third of the race. It was Manchester’s Billie Kinhalt who claimed the top spot on one of those hills and never gave it up, winning the race in a time of 24:23.46. Second place went to West Union’s Kendra Grooms at 25:07.15, with teammate Katie Fulton right behind in third at 26:13.93. Three more Lady Dragons completed the race with Katrina Boldman in sixth place, Harley Silvia in ninth place, and Houston Adkins in 11th place. Manchester had Tori Barlow fifth, Jenna McClanahan seventh, and Alexis Barlow eighth.
The Lady Dragons were the only squad with the required number of runners for a team score so their efforts saw them leave with the first place hardware.
The largest race of the day was the high school boys contest, which featured 37 runners, who were led into the finish chute by Wheelersburg’s Nate King, who won with a time of 19:15 with teammate Andrew Clark second at 19:27.
Third place went to West Union’s Adam Fulton (19:56) with his Dragon partner Gabe Grooms fourth (20:20). Firth place went to Manchester’s Ethan Pennywitt (20:23), with West Union’s Garrett Vogler sixth (20:31).
Manchester runners claimed the eighth and ninth spots, Austin Stamper (20:49) and Declan Huron (20:50), with the 10th spot going to West Union’s Steven Runyan (21:15).
Also finishing the course for the Dragons were Jai-Michael Knox (15th), Braxton Blanton (17th), Ethan Prather (18th), Grant McCarty (21st), Marcus Jacobs (28th), Chase Cummings (29th), Jordan Gibson (30th), and Alex Grooms (34th).
Besides the above mentioned, these Manchester runners also completed the course: Nate Peterson (26th) and Jordan Bowman (35th).
West Union made it a clean sweep of the high school team titles as they also took home the first place plaque in the high school boys race, followed by Ripley, Wheelersburg, Manchester, and Portsmouth Notre Dame.
The organizers of the revived “Dog Pack Challenge” were pleased with the turnout on Tuesday, but are promising bigger and better things for future challenges.