The last time Logansport’s boys cross country team had won a sectional title, Neil Armstrong had just landed on the Moon, the Chicago Cubs had just completed an epic collapse and current Berry coach Chuck LaDow was just an infant.
But the Berries are back on top, as they won their first sectional title in the sport since 1969 Tuesday at the Logansport Sectional at the Berry Patch course. Logan recorded 39 points to top runner-up Oak Hill by 14 points.
“It feels real good. It’s awesome,” said Logan sophomore Tate Gellinger, who paced the Berries with a second place finish overall in 17:10. “Forty-two years ... Coach was just being born.”
“They ran like champions today,” LaDow said. “They marked the kids. We knew that Oak Hill would be our main competition and that Western had an outside shot. They just did a great job of being competitive with those guys when they needed to.”
Pioneer had an individual advance to Saturday’s Culver Academies Regional with a top 15 finish, as sophomore Dylan Bice placed eighth in 17:40.
Logan’s girls team also advanced as a team with a fourth place finish. Lewis Cass’ girls just missed on advancing as a team by two points, but the Kings had three individuals advance in sophomore Gabi Carney (9th, 21:33), junior Jenna Yeakley (11th, 21:37) and senior Sharaya Woodmansee (13th, 21:55).
But the feel-good story of the day for the local teams was the Logan boys’ sectional championship. There’s been some good teams throughout the last 42years, but no sectional hardware to show for it.
“I lived through some pretty great teams in the [Fred] Kinder era in the ’70s that couldn’t lock down a sectional title, so we’re excited to finally get another date up on the banner on the wall,” LaDow said.
Last year’s Logan team was strong, led by North Central Conference, sectional, regional and semistate champion Kyle Overway, who’s now red-shirting at Indiana University, and a strong No. 2 runner in Daniel Arteaga, who’s now a volunteer assistant coach with the Berries.
“They still stay with the program and do a lot of things,” LaDow said. “Kyle and I talked about it a lot, and he knew that the best days of Logan cross were ahead of him because it was a very young group that came in last year. We knew we could probably fly under the radar for awhile before they saw the depth that we have. They’ve worked hard and now we have a lot of depth. We have nine kids who can be that five guy. It just makes it even sweeter because we’re only going to get better.”
Senior Jon Flory was the second Berry to cross the finish line, placing fourth overall in 17:22. Sophomore Travis Palmer was sixth (17:33), junior Zeke Alvarez was 13th (17:51) and sophomore Kyle Jordan was 16th (18:05) to round out the scoring.
“Hopefully we can keep that focus, keep that momentum and add a regional,” LaDow said. “We should be right there. It’ll be a very competitive race, and certainly being a sectional champ we’ll be one of the trio of favorites up there.”
The Logan coach said his squad, Culver Academies, Rochester, Oak Hill and Northfield will be the top contenders for the regional title.
The boys teams that advanced to the regional were Logan, Oak Hill, Western (113), Northwestern (136) and Kokomo (139). Western sophomore Matt Grider was the individual sectional champion in 16:51.
Eastern dominated the girls event, winning with 20 points. The Comets had the top four finishers, including junior champion Bethany Neeley in 20:18.
Eastern was followed by Oak Hill (105), Northwestern (109), Logan (109) and Western (116).
Senior Kelsey Hosler led the Berries with an 18th place finish in 22:37, followed by sophomore Megan Martin (19th, 22:39), junior Carina Lange (20th, 22:43), senior Bailey McIntire (22nd, 22:55) and freshman Maddi Zartman (30th, 23:19).
“We were a little bit off of what we were a couple weeks ago on this course, but overall we had four girls in the 22s. Those are good times for us,” Logan coach Brian Morrill said. “We were just a little bit flat. Really what we wanted to do was to get out, and we got out. We get to go to Culver on Saturday, and we’re an outside shot to maybe advance to semistate. If we turn it around and everybody has a great race, we can get out.”
Cass had hopes of reaching the semistate as a team this year but finished two points shy of advancing to the regional. The Kings were without fifth runner Savannah Jay with a broken foot, and longtime coach Don Bonsett was not at the sectional because his wife, Dottie, was involved in a car wreck Monday and was airlifted to a Fort Wayne hospital and was listed in serious condition Tuesday.
“It’s been an emotional day,” Cass assistant coach Joyce Bauer said while tearing up. “It’s been really hard for me, and I’m sure it’s hard for him. The girls have done well, but I think it did kind of affect them. He’s just kind of the backbone and always has been, after 43 years of this he’s just always there. I think this is probably his first sectional he’s ever missed as far I know. It’s been hard.
“We’re blessed with a beautiful team, and that’s all you can ask for. We did what we could.”