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Knoll Ridge Country Club in North English makes for quite the hilly course, but Highland senior Josh Brand says given the local terrain, the Highland cross country team was well prepared.
“In our practice area, we just have a lot of hills to practice on. So, we get a lot of good training. Coach Strobel teaches us how to push it up the hills and move up the hills and a lot of kids don’t get that chance. That’s where we like to pass them at. Courses like this are usually our friend.”
Head Coach Angela Strobel concurred saying there’s no way to avoid hills in the Highland area. “They’re not scared of them and mentally they’re able to handle them and that’s to their advantage.”
The team was also aided by the fact that the weather and course conditions finally cooperated, giving the runners a pretty dry course and perfect running weather.
“Beautiful day to run, a little windy, but beautiful temperature,” said Brand.
“It definitely helps, I’m sure everybody had an improved time, partially due to the weather, because mentally it doesn’t wear on you the same. It’s not a factor any more that you’re thinking about, so mentally you have more room for the important things like what you’re doing with your running form, your position in the race, and making strategic decisions,” Coach Strobel commented.
Caleb Brase continued to lead the boys’ team, finishing 16th with a time of 19:16.56. Brand was second with a time of 20:47.75.
Brand hopes to be able to build on running his best time at such a difficult course. “It’s really good practice for the flatter courses, it makes the flatter courses seem easier. This is about the hilliest course you’ll ever have, so any course after this is pretty easy,” he said.
He was followed by Brian Redlinger (21:51.52), Nic Rath (22:19.65), Luke Van Schoyck (23:24.27), and Nathan Butler (26:11.75). They finished ninth as a team.
For the girls’ team, Zoe Mahler posted the team’s best time at 25:27.12, good for 29th. “Zoe, her head was in it tonight. She was really focused and pushing it in the middle, which is just what she needed to do. I think she was more relaxed before the race…and I feel like that helped tremendously,” said Strobel.
Kate McFarland (27:37.96) and Alli Brand (28:19.20) rounded on the team times in the varsity meet.
“I feel like Kate and Alli ran really great races tonight. They bettered their times and I feel like that’s all you can ask for,” stated Strobel.
Coach Strobel will look for her team to continue to improve as the team finds their form. “I feel like we’re just finally hitting the point where everybody’s in shape and ready to race...now that we are, we’re ready to work on pushing ourselves.”
Tipton won both the team titles at the event with Kaylee Ford of Wilton running the fastest individual time for the girls at 20:49 while Noah Brown of Wilton finished first for the boys in 18:08.
The team runs next Sept. 24 at Pekin.
Sam Smith 28:50.80
Matt Butler 31:03.14