CHRISMAN — Nick Hess put himself in position for success long before he reached the starting line for Saturday’s 32nd Chrisman Cowchip Classic cross-country meet.
“We stress hydration,” the St. Thomas More senior said. “I’ve been hydrating all week.”
On a sultry day, when runners from some schools in the 23-team meet were unable to finish because of the conditions, Hess posted the best time in the race featuring each school’s No. 1 runner.
The heat, he said, was “like a blanket laying on you. It mellows out after about a mile and a half. It was very raceable.”
Hess’ 3-mile time of 15 minutes, 24 seconds was one second off the meet record, established in 2011 during Steve Schroeder’s state championship run at Monticello.
“I’m honored to be within a second of such a renowned runner,” Hess said. “I’m trying to follow down the same road.”
Hess surged into the lead by the first turn, but Tuscola junior Nick Ponder made sure he wouldn’t pull away.
“He ran fantastic,” Hess said. “I was very impressed. It’s nice having someone pushing you. It motivates you, and you don’t get complacent.”
Ponder was the runner-up, eight seconds behind Hess. Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac’s Jon Davis was third and had the day’s top time by a sophomore (15:49).
St. Thomas More had the individual winner in the flights for the three fastest runners. Sam Powers (16:23) won the second flight — missing a meet record by three seconds — and Brendan Remington (16:57) won the third flight.
Remington prevailed in the closest boys’ race. He outstepped St. Joseph-Ogden’s Clayton Nigg by a second.
Three boys’ records were shattered, starting with Unity senior Kyle Gateley (17:27) in the seventh flight. Gateley broke the mark by 25 seconds. SJ-O senior Corey Thompson (17:15) lowered the sixth-flight mark, which had stood for 11 years, and Monticello sophomore Zach Mesplay (16:45) topped Remington’s time from last year in the fifth flight by 28 seconds.
SJ-O beat the Sabers by five points for team supremacy. Monticello and Unity — which each had runners unable to finish — tied for third. Paxton-Buckley-Loda was fifth.
The other boys’ winner was Monticello junior Will Montgomery (16:50) in the fourth flight.
Monticello girls capture crown
Top-ranked (Class 1A) Monticello ran away with the championship in the race for team honors in the girls’ division. The Sages had four individual winners (Hannah Houska, second flight; Audrey Duncan, third flight; Maggie Utgaard, fourth flight; and Maddie Tutich, fifth flight) to go with a runner-up (Kate Love, seventh flight) and a third-place finisher (Emily Foley, first flight).
Tutich (19:18) and Utgaard (20:06) each broke records with their times in their flighted races.
The placings were not what most impressed first-year Monticello head coach Dave Remmert.
“All of our girls’ times were better than what they were a year ago at this time,” Remmert said. “Every meet has its ups and downs, bright spots and low points, but overall, I was fairly pleased.”
Foley ran behind two of the state’s elite freshmen in the race for No. 1 runners. Her time was 19:13 and was the day’s best by a senior.
“She wanted to compete, and she ran super,” Remmert said. “Times will drop as the temperatures do.”
Both of the top two finishers in the race for No. 1 runners bettered the previous meet record, which Mahomet-Seymour’s Jackie Waldman set in 2006.
Tutich, who won her flight by more than two minutes, registered the best time among junior girls.
Effingham St. Anthony’s Anna Sophia Keller (17:36) dropped nearly a minute off the meet mark for No. 1 runners. Urbana Uni High’s Annamarie Michael (18:25) was the runner-up, eight seconds under the former record.
“My goal was to go under 19 (minutes),” Michael said. “This time surprises me.”
She’s used to competing against Keller.
“Last year we ran against each other in about every race,” Keller said. “She usually beats me in swimming.”
Michael cut nearly a minute off her time from her prep debut.
“I’m hesitant to put any limits on what she can do,” Uni High coach Doug Mynatt said. “She ran a great race for second.”
Other individual girls’ winners were SJ-O’s Jessica Kassuelke (sixth flight) and M-S’ Mariah McAnally (seventh flight).
M-S was closest to Monticello in the team race. SJ-O was third, followed by St. Anthony, Unity and Uni High. M-S’ Lauren Whitehouse — fourth in the flight for the fastest runners — posted the day’s top mark by a sophomore (19:30).