Seward runs 19:39, sets PR on 18th birthday
Zebra boys take 6th behind Rohr, Steininger
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
NORTH MANCHESTER — Zoe Seward dreams of skydiving some day.
For now, she remains grounded but moving fast while reaching a personal milestone.
The Rochester senior ran a 19:39 to set a new personal record and finish fourth overall at the Manchester Invitational Saturday, and she did it on her 18th birthday.
Her previous best was a 19:56 at the 2020 semistate at New Prairie.
Seward was essentially running for herself at Manchester. The Lady Zs had only three runners, not enough for a complete team. Meanwhile, Tippecanoe Valley finished 10th out of 16 complete teams.
Meanwhile, the Rochester boys finished sixth out of 20 complete teams. Valley was 20th.
Seward is known for running an even pace, but she said that her practices with coach Alex Gudeman have focused on her developing more of a finishing kick. Her fourth-place finish came in a field of 132 runners, and her time was 22 seconds faster than her 2021 semistate time.
“My coach Gudeman had us going out a little bit slower, which I think really helped because then I had more energy at the end, and I was able to cut down each mile,” Seward said. “We’ve been working more on speed work and just quickening up our steps. This summer, I worked a lot on endurance, and so he just wants us to incorporate some speed into our racing.”
Gudeman said that the speed workouts do not come naturally to Seward, which might explain her recent improvement.
“That’s about where I’d like her to be at this point in the season,” Gudeman said. “Obviously, we know that she can go faster than that, but this is a good way to start September and bodes well for our races in October.”
Seward said she focused over the summer on not putting as much pressure on herself. She said she still ran “quite a bit” but said she did not want to enjoy running more.
“The team, I think, we’re getting ice cream after this,” Seward said. “And hopefully I can go skydiving. I want to go skydiving … sometime soon.”
Rochester’s other two runners were freshmen: Allyson Calloway was 43rd in 22:59, and Kadence Bradley was 94th in 25:48.
Araceli Ochoa, Kendyll Bradley and Maddie Heinzmann were among the varsity regulars who did not run.
“Obviously, I’d love for all my girls to be healthy, but I’m not too concerned about missing a few at these midseason meets,” Gudeman said. “The goal is always to be healthy and be at our best at TRC and the state tournament. So that’s our goal, so I held out a few of the girls today that weren’t feeling 100 percent and had some nagging pains. Because this meet was not worth the rest of our season, so we’re just playing it safe at this point.”
Valley junior Chesnee Miller already broke the school record this year at both the Warsaw and Northfield invitationals but was unable to improve upon the 20:18 standard she set at Northfield on Aug. 27.
Still, she ran a 20:44 to place 14th overall.
Other Valley runners included Bailey Bussard, who was 59th in 23:49; McKenna Lowe, who was 62nd in 23:54; Ava Minix, who was 83rd in 25:11 and Talia Holder, who was 113th in 27:12.
East Noble won the team title with 43 points. Fort Wayne Northrop was second with 73.
East Noble’s Addison Lindsey was the individual champion with an 18:25. She beat the rest of the field by 45 seconds.
While Fort Wayne Northrop’s Conyer Wilson took early command of the boys race followed by a pack of Penn runners, Rochester senior Chris Rohr was in a secondary pack and raced home in 17:30, good for 12th place in a field of 147 runners. His time has improved by 20 seconds in the two weeks since he won the Zebra Invitational on his home course.
Junior Wes Steininger placed 18th in a personal best 17:46 and also earned a medal along with Rohr.
“Like I told them earlier this week and again this morning, today is our first real, larger meet, larger invitational,” Gudeman said. “So I expected them to have a good time and race better than we have our past two meets just because the conditions were better today. We actually raced in the morning. It was cloudy, a flat course, good competition. So all those factors added up to some pretty good races today.”
Other Rochester runners included Grant Bailey, who was 34th in 18:30; Adrian Ochoa, who was 70th in 19:56; Reece Johnson, who followed Ochoa home in 72nd in 19:57; Tanner Reese, who was 106th in 21:48; and Lane Shank, who was 109th in 21:59.
“Like I was telling them, this is just September,” Gudeman said. “We’re going to improve from here, and actually looking at all their races, we’ve got some work to do on running smart races. Even if we don't get any better physically between now and October, we can sharpen up the way we race and pace and make some improvements there.”
The Valley frontrunner was sophomore Eli Sterk, who was 91st in 21:04. Other Valley striders included Isaac Whetstone, who was 116th in 22:26; Christopher Marquez, who was 137th in 25:17; Gavin Leininger, who was 141st in 27:05; Michael Leininger, who was 145th in 30:34; and Christian Guzman, who was 147th in 31:20.
Penn won the team title with 26 points. Penn’s fifth runner crossed the finish line before any other school’s third runner. Culver Academy was second with 92 points.
Wilson won in 16:34, beating Penn’s Hudson Kaser by 13 seconds.
Manchester Invitational girls results (points in parentheses): East Noble 43, Fort Wayne Northrop 73, NorthWood 131, Culver Academy 144, Penn 161, Manchester 209, Fort Wayne South Side 211, Mishawaka Marian 258, Fairfield 263, Valley 287, Eastside 288, Fort Wayne Blackhawk 293, Fort Wayne North Side 317, Wawasee 320, Fremont 337, Garrett 345
Incomplete teams: Rochester, North Miami, Whitko, Lakewood Park, Bluffton, Peru
Rochester results (incomplete team)
4. Zoe Seward – 19:39, 43. Allyson Calloway – 22:59, 94. Kadence Bradley – 25:48
Valley results (287 points, 10th place)
14. Chesnee Miller – 20:44 (13), 59. Bailey Bussard – 23:49 (54), 62. McKenna Lowe – 23:54 (57), 83. Ava Minix – 25:11 (69), 113. Talia Holder – 27:12 (94)
Manchester Invitational boys results (points in parentheses): Penn 26, Culver Academy 92, Fort Wayne Northrop 122, Bluffton 147, Morgan Township 159, Rochester 183, Wawasee 195, Manchester 227, Garrett 228, Trinity Greenlawn 298, Lakewood Park 300, Fort Wayne South Side 323, Mishawaka Marian 339, Eastside 345, Fort Wayne Blackhawk 440, Fremont 444, Fort Wayne North Side 469, South Bend Career Academy 475, Peru 485, Valley 544,
Incomplete teams: East Noble, North Miami, Whitko
These three Rochester cross-country runners earned medals at the Manchester Invitational Saturday for finishing in the top 20 of their respective races. From left – Wesley Steininger, Zoe Seward, Chris Rohr.
Chesnee Miller Eli Sterk Grant Bailey