Austin Brown and Evan Bishop are usually chasing Brandon Blackmer. The Wes-Del senior cross country runners are very competitive, and they’re always hoping to run faster than their teammates. But Blackmer seems to have a way to beat them on race day.
He edged out Brown and Bishop again on Saturday at the Rushville Classic, but the two teammates were close behind him. The three of them finished sixth, seventh and eighth in the boys Division III race. The Warriors’ prize for putting three runners in the top 10 was a team championship in their division. Wes-Del finished first in the 17-team field with 76 points, while second-place Oldenburg Academy put up 85 points.
“It means so much to us,” Brown said. “These last few weeks, we’ve been working so hard. We’ve been giving it everything we have in practice. And for our coach to come up and tell us we got first place, it almost brought tears to my eyes and my teammates.”
Blackmer led his team, finishing sixth with a time of 17:54.97. Brown followed in 18:03.09, and Bishop took eighth with a time of 18:03.56. Brown said his goal remains to finish first overall in a race, defeating Blackmer and competitors from other schools.
“Every one of us pushes the next guy,” Brown said. “Evan pushes me every day. Brandon pushes both of us. Our goal is to beat that next guy. We want to be the best on the team, and every other meet we’re trying to beat the next guy.
“It’s weird. Because we have that competitiveness, but we’re teammates at the same time. So even though we know we have to beat that guy, we’re still a team. And afterward we tell each other ‘good job’ and all that.”
Samson Waters gave the Warriors a fourth runner in the top 20. He finished 19th in 18:39.20. Bryce Marsh finished 42nd in 19:30.71.
Coach Brad Gillum said the win gives his team a good measure of how well it’s running early in the season.
“It’s a measuring stick at this point in the season, for sure,” Gillum said. “And it’s by far, it’s the most important morale. Because you’ve worked all summer long and haven’t gotten to race very much. You’ve done one or two races that are really just about getting one under your belt. So now, everybody’s ran a couple times, and it’s sort of the first legit race of the season. To win it shows that you’re on track and what you did was worth the sacrifice.”
Wapahani’s Drew Barber was the top East Central Indiana finisher in the Boys Division III race, taking fifth in 17:53.26. The Raiders’ Robert Wilkinson finished ninth in 18:08.05.
Yorktown’s Chris Lowry took third in the Division II race, finishing in 17:43.02. Teammate Blake Collins finished seventh in 18:05.38. Winchester’s Randy Beer finished 10th in 18:33.80. Yorktown finished fifth as a team.
New Castle’s Sam Willis finished in 17:35.67, taking 10th in Division I. His team was fourth.