- Val T.
RHS girls take 3rd, boys 6th at inaugural Zebra Stampede
Winamac girls take 5th, boys 9th
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
During an unprecedented era of social distancing, there was some unprecedented distance running at Rochester High School Saturday.
In the first ever Zebra Stampede, run at a course filled with peaks and valleys and nooks and crannies and rolling hills, the race didn’t stroke a flat note.
The Rochester girls cross-country team finished third in a field of 10 teams and the RHS boys finished sixth out of nine teams.
Meanwhile, the Winamac girls took fifth and the boys took ninth.
Warsaw won the girls team title with 69 points, and Harrison (West Lafayette) won the boys team title with 61 points.
Culver Academy’s Lexi Allen was the individual girls champion in 19:00, topping a field of 97 runners. RHS’ Madilyn Calloway was second in 19:27.
Allen’s Culver Academy team was second with 74 points. Both of the teams that finished ahead of the Lady Zs will also race against them at the Manchester sectional Oct. 10.
Harrison’s Leo Ramirez-Soriano won the boys race in 16:26, three seconds faster than runner-up Sam Tullis of Culver Academy in the 92-runner field. The fastest Zebra was Peyton Hiatt, who was ninth in 17:27. The fastest Winamac strider was Kolbey Wegner, who was 13th in 17:44.
Other RHS girls runners included Araceli Ochoa, who was seventh in 20:20; Zoe Seward, who was 15th in 21:27; Maddie Heinzmann, who was 30th in 22:18; Kendyll Bradley, who was 40th in 23:09; Elena Bode, who was 41st in 23:11; and Elly Fuller, who was 90th in 28:48.
RHS finished 13 points ahead of Portage in the battle for third place.
“These are teams that are hard to compete against,” RHS coach Scott Stalbaum said of Warsaw and Culver Academy. “So losing to them is no big deal. I’m really happy that we beat some of the other schools though. Rensselaer Central has a really good girls program. You look at Portage, Portage is a 6A football school, and they have a long history of being a good running program. That was our real big goal today was to see if we could beat Portage. I saw results from New Prairie, and I thought we had a chance this week if we ran really well. And we did.”
The Winamac girls exhibited more of a pack. They didn’t have any runners in the top 12, but they had three in the top 18. Frontrunner Kate Collins ran a 21:24 and took 13th, freshman Maggie Smith ran a 21:29 and was 16th, and freshman Kelsey Wegner was 18th in 21:30.
Other Winamac runners included Kingsley Kroft, who was 58th in 24:05; Emily Rausch, who was 60th in 24:17; Ariana Gualajara, who was 77th in 25:38; and Lily Bennett, who was 83rd in 26:33.
After Hiatt, other RHS boys finishers included Dylan Steininger, who was 26th in 18:26; Chris Rohr, who was 29th in 18:39; Wes Steininger, who was 45th in 19:41; Lane Shank, who was 79th in 22:25; and Peyton Brooks, who was 88th in 23:52.
While Hiatt’s time was about 25 seconds slower than the previous week’s race at the New Prairie Invitational, Stalbaum said it was a similar performance given the circumstances.
“I think the guys race today was a little slower overall than the girls race,” Stalbaum said. “It was nice and cloudy and breezy for the girls race. The sun came out right for when the boys race started, and it got warm. So you’re looking again (at) New Prairie to this course, I’d say there was about a 20-to-30-second difference. You look at the competition he had and the people that were around him, he ran about as good as he ran last week.”
While Winamac’s top three girls finished six seconds apart, the Winamac boys were less of a pack. After Kolbey Wegner, Cristian Cardenas was 1:31 behind him in 19:15, good for 38th place. Carson Bennett was 59th in 20:29, Cooper Jones was 68th in 21:21, and Clay Kistler was 72nd in 21:39.
The race was originally scheduled for Aug. 22, but it was canceled when Rochester schools were shut down due to coronavirus-related exposure within the community on Aug. 3. In-class learning and sports restarted on Aug. 24.
Once the Culver Academy Invitational, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, was canceled, RHS decided to reschedule their meet to take the place of the Culver Academy meet.
The Culver Academy meet typically features about 3,500 runners annually. The Zebra Stampede was held on a smaller scale with 10 teams competing in each gender.
Stalbaum said the Zebra Stampede will move back to its original August date next year. The Culver Academy meet will re-take its usual last-Saturday-in-September spot on the schedule.
Stalbaum said he had to turn down teams that wanted to attend due to coronavirus-related precautions.
“I think I had 22 responses, and we picked 10 because we were trying to keep our numbers down,” Stalbaum said. “This could have been really big, and we could have done multiple races today, but unfortunately with COVID, that didn’t work out. Next year, we might have 15 teams at our home invite in August. So I think it will be a fun day.”
Stalbaum said that Rochester Middle School coach Alex Gudeman designed the course, which started and finished near Rochester City Park and included two trips up a steep hill behind the visiting bleachers at Barnhart Field.
“This is like his 15th version of what he did to make it where it would work for a big invite and not just a dual meet,” Stalbaum said. “I can tell you this: I avoided doing it my entire career here, and then Alex forced me into doing it, and now I’m really glad he pushed me. So he got a course design. He said, ‘Let’s do this.’ And I said, ‘Alright, I guess, if that’s what you want to do.’ And I’m really glad he did that.”
Stalbaum said the course was “spectator friendly” and also more convenient for coaches, citing no long excursions into the woods as seen at some other courses. The only problem is that no spectators were allowed due to coronavirus-related precautions.
“They really liked the fact that they actually got to coach their kids more than they normally get to,” Stalbaum said. “And they would have loved to have seen more spectators here because spectators could get everywhere and the kids would be getting cheered on all the time.”
ZEBRA STAMPEDE GIRLS RESULTS (POINTS IN PARENTHESES): Warsaw 69, Culver Academy 74, Rochester 94, Portage 107, Winamac 124, Rensselaer 126, Mishawaka Marian 183, Hanover Central 198, Fort Wayne Snider 209, Plymouth 249
RHS results (94 points, third place)
2. Madilyn Calloway - 19:27 (2), 7. Araceli Ochoa - 20:20 (7), 15. Zoe Seward - 21:27 (15), 30. Maddie Heinzmann - 22:18 (30), 40. Kendyll Bradley - 23:09 (40), 41. Elena Bode - 23:11, 90. Elly Fuller - 28:48
Winamac results (124 points, fifth place)
13. Kate Collins - 21:24 (13), 18. Kelsey Wegner - 21:30 (18), 24. Alexis Sheets - 21:43 (24), 58. Kingsley Kroft - 24:05 (53), 60. Emily Rausch - 24:17 (55), 77. Ariana Gualajara - 25:38, 83. Lily Bennett - 26:33
Zebra Stampede boys results (points in parentheses): Harrison (West Lafayette) 61, Hanover Central 67, Culver Academy 73, Fort Wayne Snider 80, Plymouth 157, Rochester 162, Mishawaka Marian 163, Rensselaer 173, Winamac 212
Incomplete team: Covenant Christian (DeMotte)
RHS results (162 points, sixth place)
9. Peyton Hiatt - 17:27 (9), 26. Dylan Steininger - 18:26 (25), 29. Chris Rohr - 18:39 (28), 45. Wes Steininger - 19:41 (41), 79. Lane Shank - 22:25 (59), 88, Peyton Brooks - 23:52
Winamac results (212 points, ninth place)
13. Kolbey Wegner - 17:44 (13), 38. Cristian Cardenas - 19:15 (36), 59. Carson Bennett - 20:29 (50), 68. Cooper Jones - 21:21 (56), 72. Clay Kistler - 21:39 (57)
Rochester’s Madilyn Calloway finishes second in 19:27 at the inaugural Zebra Stampede Saturday. Calloway was the RHS frontrunner and helped the Lady Zs to a third-place finish in the field of 10 teams.
These trophies were presented to the team champions at the Zebra Stampede Saturday. Warsaw won the girls title, and Harrison (West Lafayette) won the boys title.