Rohr, Seward win Zebra Invite cross-country titles
Rochester boys win, girls take 2nd without injured Calloway, Ochoa
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The Rochester girls cross-country team might be the team ranked in the top 50 in the state, but it was the Rochester boys cross-country team that reached the top of the mountain – literally – at the Zebra Invitational at Rochester on Aug. 21.
Led by individual champion Chris Rohr, Rochester took three of the top four spots and finished first in a field of three teams.
The Zebras won the team title despite being outnumbered. Rochester had 33 points. Runner-up McCutcheon had 37. Rochester’s team consisted of seven runners. McCutcheon had 25 runners.
In the girls race, Rochester scored 56 points and finished second in a field of four teams. Rochester junior Zoe Seward won the individual title in 21:19 and beat the rest of the field by a minute.
Manchester’s Kadence Fox, Ayla Cashdollar and Josie Briner finished second, third and fourth, respectively, behind Seward and helped lead the Lady Squires to the team title with 36 points.
Other Rochester runners earning a medal by finishing in the top 10 were Kendyll Bradley, who was fifth in 23:05, and Elena Bode, who was seventh in 24:45.
But the bigger story might have been who did not run: Madilyn Calloway and Araceli Ochoa.
Calloway is the reigning individual Three Rivers Conference champion and state qualifier in both 2019 and 2020 as well as a track state qualifier in the 3,200 meters back in June. She missed the meet with multiple stress fractures in her right foot.
Araceli Ochoa, who was third at the TRC meet last year, also missed the meet with a stress fracture. Rochester first-year coach Eric Linn said Ochoa’s injury has “not quite fully healed” after missing last year’s cross-country regional. The injury persisted into track season.
Linn said he hopes Calloway could be back by the postseason, which starts at the Manchester sectional on Oct. 9. He also said he hopes to have Ochoa back in the middle of the season.
“Araceli might run maybe New Prairie (on Sept. 18), maybe CMA (on Sept. 25) ideally,” Linn said. “Ideally, Calloway will be back by conference (at Tippecanoe Valley on Oct. 2). If I can get her back by CMA, that’d be ideal, but for her, it’s just hey, let’s get to the postseason. Let’s make sure you can run postseason and have her fresh for that. It’s not ideal, not at all, especially with races like this where if we would have had those two, we probably would have won girls.”
Seward, who ran a personal best 19:56 at last year’s New Prairie semistate, said the intense heat and rugged course, which includes two climbs of the vaunted hill behind Barnhart Field, slowed down most runners.
“I feel pretty good for the first meet,” Seward said. “It was hot outside, and the course was pretty hilly, so I think that’s pretty good.”
Seward said running without Calloway and Ochoa made the race more difficult for her.
“That’s hard for me because I don’t have them in my practice to cheer me on and do workouts with, but it helps seeing them cheer for me,” Seward said.
The website inccstats.com ranked Rochester No. 42 in its preseason rankings and gave the Lady Zs a 26 percent chance of making the state finals. Linn said percentages could change given the current era and has taken a more philosophical attitude as a result.
“It changes,” Linn said. “We’re in the COVID era and everything else. Somebody could be out come sectional or regional, and that could change everything for any team. The fact that they’re giving us a 26 percent chance now to make it to state, I’ll take it, but I’m going to take it with a grain of salt because it’s not the end-all, be-all. We still have to perform that day.”
Other Rochester runners included Maddie Heinzmann, who was 19th in 26:39; newcomer Greta Barbieri, who was 30th in 31:27; and newcomer Madalyn Brouyette, who was 32nd in 35:19.
Argos had an incomplete team that consisted of two striders. Savannah Lyon was 17th in 26:24, and Ava Stackhouse was 18th in 26:33.
Rohr was Rochester’s No. 3 runner behind Peyton Hiatt and Dylan Steininger at last year’s Logansport regional in 18:36.
Rohr’s sophomore track season ended at the regional, where he was 16th out of 16 runners in the 3,200 meters. He said he wasn’t satisfied with how he ended the season.
“I had a good season, but I knew I could have done better, and I didn’t apply all that I had to the races, so I made sure this summer I did more miles, more intense training, more intense workouts,” Rohr said.
During the summer in which he said he ran 48 miles per week, Rohr ran an 18:04 at the RHS course for a 13-second win, winning from the front in the field of 43 runners.
Rohr said he and his teammates had been hydrating in advance of the race. Runners have to “plan to hurt” in such conditions.
“It’s not my PR, and it’s not what I would have liked, but under the conditions today, it’s fine,| Rohr said. “I’m fine with it, nothing wrong with it. A lot of room to improve for the whole team this season. … It was hot (and) dry. The hills made it a lot worse than a lot of other courses.”
Manchester’s Raven King was second in 18:17. He narrowly edged Dylan Steininger in 18:18. Hiatt, who ran a 17:03 at last year’s semistate, was fourth in 18:37.
Other Rochester runners included sophomore Wes Steininger, who was eighth in 18:59 and narrowly missed a personal best despite the unpleasant conditions; newcomer Reece Johnson, who was 24th in 21:05; Lane Shank, who was 36th in 24:02; and newcomer Jacob Brubaker, who was 38th in 27:13.
“It’s just a benchmark for us,” Linn said. “I wasn’t really telling them to go all out or anything. It was just hey, let’s go have fun, run and see what you guys can do. And they impressed me. They did well. I knew we’d have Chris, Peyton and Dylan all up there, and the fact that they were up there was just awesome. … The fact that they started out 18-flat to 18:45 I think was where Peyton was, just to have them all in that range and knowing that they’ll get better in better conditions than today.”
The only Argos runner was Nudtanum Sangchaitawee, who was 41st in 29:24.
Zebra Invitational notes
This was the second annual Zebra Invitational. Last year’s race occurred on Sept. 25, 2020, and replaced the Culver Academy Invitational on the schedule after that race was canceled. This year’s race was held a month earlier and conflicted with other races in the area, including the Jacob Graf Invitational at Logansport.
Scott Stalbaum and Alex Gudeman, who both helped design the course, no longer work for the Rochester Schools. Stalbaum is now the boys cross-country coach at Munster, and Gudeman teaches in the Tippecanoe Valley schools.
Rochester’s Melody Hisey was unable to complete the race and was taken to the hospital for treatment. She was the only known heat casualty of the race.
There is a strong consensus among area coaches that the TRC meet has found a permanent home at Tippecanoe Valley. This year’s conference meet is scheduled for Oct. 2. The meet had alternated between Valley and Manchester since the TRC expanded to 10 schools in 2015. Manchester will host this year’s sectional on Oct. 9 and could host the sectional on a regular basis. Manchester University is expected to become a permanent host for the TRC track meet in May.
Plymouth Lincoln won the junior high girls race. Rochester was third. Allyson Calloway was the fastest RMS runner after taking 14th in 14:52. The fastest area runner was Emily Pippenger of Argos, who was 11th in 14:51. Argos had an incomplete team.
Rochester’s Grant Bailey was second in the junior high boys race in 11:31. Argos’ Jack Jones also earned a medal by taking ninth in 12:56. Tecumseh won the junior high boys team title with 35 points. Rochester was fifth out of five complete teams with 107 points, and Argos had an incomplete team.
Zebra Invitational girls results (points in parentheses): Manchester 36, Rochester 56, North Judson 61, McCutcheon 70, Argos (incomplete team)
Rochester girls results (second place, 56 points)
1. Zoe Seward – 21:19 (1), 5. Kendyll Bradley – 23:05 (5), 7. Elena Bode – 24:45 (7), 19. Maddie Heinzmann – 26:39 (17), 30. Greta Barbieri – 31:27 (26), 32. Madalyn Brouyette – 35:19
Argos girls results
17. Savannah Lyon – 26:24, 18. Ava Stackhouse – 26:33
Zebra Invitational boys results (points in parentheses): Rochester 33, McCutcheon 37, Manchester 58, North Judson (incomplete team), Argos (incomplete team)
Rochester boys results (first place, 33 points)
1. Chris Rohr – 18:04 (1), 3. Dylan Steininger – 18:18 (3), 4. Peyton Hiatt – 18:37 (4), 8. Wes Steininger – 18:59 (8), 24. Reece Johnson – 21:05 (17), 36. Lane Shank – 24:02, 38. Jacob Brubaker – 27:13
Argos boys results
41. Nudtanum Sangchaitawee – 29:24