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The Journal Gazette

Monday, October 16, 2017 6:00 pm

Westview boys cross country proving itself against bigger competition

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

Cross country is one of the handful of sports in the IHSAA that does not utilize a class system.

It makes it a unique postseason compared to Indiana's other regional neighbors such as Ohio and Illinois. Instead of multiple state champions in the sport, Indiana awards one.

Big schools such as Carroll, Carmel, West Lafayette and Columbus North have dominated the state tournament, but Saturday's regional at West Noble showed just how well the smaller schools can compete.

Westview dominated defending state-champion Carroll with a final team score of 37-82. Concordia, which finished fifth at last year's state championship, was third with 98.

"To win a regional, we only have 400 kids in our school," Warriors coach Les Hively said, "but these guys have been to the state level, been on the big stage a lot but to win this, the mental difficulty of getting over that hump and winning a regional title is a big deal for our team and our school."

The team was led by Matthew Yoder's regional championship in 15 minutes, 43.72 seconds with Richmond Stoltzfus in third (16:07.34). Not far behind was Remington Carpenter (eighth, 16:33.85), Kent Yoder (12th, 16:43.86) and Spencer Carpenter (13th, 16:44.23).

"They were at New Haven," Carroll coach David Brooks said. "Anyone in the sport knows they're good. They're phenomenal. I'm kind of pulling for them, to be honest with you.

"It would have been difficult to compete with them had we been full strength. We weren't full strength and it showed. They're great, well-coached, well-disciplined. They're fantastic."

The Warriors finished 14th at last year's state championships helped by all-state finishes from Stoltzfus (ninth, 16:04.1) and Matthew Yoder (16th, 16:11.8). The team was 17th the year before, also led by Stoltzfus and Matthew Yoder.

"They've been working years to get to this point. I remember when they were freshmen, I looked at Homestead across the way and I remember thinking, 'Those guys are huge, they're like men and I have little boys.' Now I have these young men and they're a tremendous group of kids."

The team returned six of seven runners from last year's state team and Yoder and Stoltzfus have pushed their teammates to the successes of winning the New Haven Classic big school division, a sectional title and a regional title.

"Matthew and Richmond, I've been working with them since they were sixth graders," Hively said. "The whole way up through high school, the experience they have, the leadership they have, pushing guys to work harder, running in the summer. Without them, this doesn't happen.

"To be first and third in the regional and set themselves up for the final push for semistate and state is just phenomenal. The younger kids can look up to them, ask them questions, you couldn't ask for nicer kids. Good teammates, good students, well-rounded individuals all the way through."