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  • Val T.

Calloway’s comeback from injury worthy of top strider honors again


Sports Editor, RTC

This was going to be THE YEAR for the Rochester girls cross-country team.

Until it wasn’t. Then it almost was again.

Injuries to some of the team’s top runners, and their subsequent return from those injuries, led to the shifting fortunes.

In the end, Rochester finished eighth in the semistate, ahead of Duneland Conference superpowers like Crown Point and Portage and private school behemoths like Culver Academy and Illiana Christian.

It was also a great year at Winamac, who won the Hoosier North title and who had the individual conference champion in sophomore Maggie Smith.

But our pick for the area Runner of the Year for the second consecutive year was Rochester’s Madilyn Calloway, who overcame stress fractures that kept her off the course until a week before the Three Rivers Conference meet and wound up making the state finals for the third time.

While we thank our talks with area coaches for their insights, this list is ours and ours alone and is based on times and our own observations. We place special emphasis on the conference meets and postseason advancement.


  • Madilyn Calloway (Rochester) (Runner of the Year) – Calloway stayed fit as she recovered from her injury and ran a 20:09 at conference and 20:07 at sectional. She slowed down to a 20:25 at the Culver Academy regional, which was held on a swampy Culver Academy course, before an inspiring 19:34 at the semistate.

  • Zoe Seward (Rochester) – Seward won the Zebra Invitational early in the season and then was top six at the conference, sectional and regional meets before a season-best 20:01 at the semistate.

  • Maggie Smith (Winamac) – Smith followed up an impressive freshman season in 2020 with a better year in 2021. She ran a 19:50 to win the Hoosier North and led her team to a conference championship. But her most impressive time might have been a 20:31 at the brutal New Prairie course at the semistate.

  • Violet Montgomery (Pioneer) – Montgomery ran a 19:55 at conference and lost a sizzling fast race to Smith. Then she advanced to regional and then semistate as an individual. Only a sophomore, she’s already a team leader.

  • Kadence Hoover (Winamac) – The Winamac feeder system always seems to produce young runners who are immediately ready for varsity, and Hoover, a freshman, was no different. She has already broken 21 minutes and made it to semistate as an individual.

  • Chesnee Miller (Tippecanoe Valley) – A year after a quarantine kept her out of the regional, Miller was a semistate qualifier this year. She rewrites the Valley record book seemingly every time she puts on a pair of running shoes.

  • Lucy Rangel (Rochester) – Rangel, a freshman, was one of the team’s key runners early in the season due to injuries, and she adapted to the 5K distance in time. She ran 21:51 at the regional and dropped that time to 21:12 at semistate.

  • Araceli Ochoa (Rochester) – Ochoa was the other comeback story on Rochester’s team, breaking 22 minutes after seemingly a long battle with her own stress fracture.

  • Kylie Farris (Pioneer) – Farris kept getting faster and faster throughout the season and was a narrow miss as a possible individual semistate qualifier.

  • Kelsey Wegner (Winamac) – Wegner was a strong No. 3 and an all-Hoosier North runner behind Smith and Hoover in the Winamac pack.

Honorable mention

  • Kendyll Bradley (Rochester)

  • Delaney Strasser (Caston)

  • Ava Stackhouse (Argos)

  • Savannah Lyon (Argos)

  • Alexis Sheets (Winamac)

  • Bailey Bussard (Tippecanoe Valley)

  • Elena Bode (Rochester)

  • Maddie Heinzmann (Rochester)

  • Ariana Gualajara (Winamac)

  • Bethany Poor (Winamac)

RTC Runner of the Year Madilyn Calloway

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