Freeman Field belonged to the Seymour boys and girls cross-country teams Thursday.
Both Owls squads claimed first-place trophies at the annual season-opening Seymour Invitational, with the boys taking the title back from Jennings County while the girls dominated their field.
Brownstown Central also competed, claiming third for the girls and sixth in the boys race.
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The course was changed for this year’s race, with two large laps from the woods to the finish line.
Freeman’s course was flooded in spots and very muddy throughout most of the circuit.
Top-15 individual finishes received medals for the race, while top-three teams got trophies.
For the boys, Seymour topped the nine-team field with 35 points, while Jennings County accounted for 49 and Jeffersonville scored 79.
Jenning County’s Alex Hendrix won the race in 17:41.7.
Junior Jacob Voss led Seymour with a third place finish of 18:10, while teammate Alex Lovins, a senior, claimed fourth in 18:22.
The Owls’ Cooper Morrow was seventh in 18:54, Hunter Bauserman timed 18:56 for ninth, Trent Hohenstreiter got 12th clocking 19:08.1 and Luke Plumer snagged 13th in 19:08.
“I think that we showed more depth than I thought we had,” Owls boys coach Randy Fife said. “I was a little worried that we wouldn’t be six or seven runners strong — that really carried us through. We pushed a lot of runners ahead of Jennings County’s four-man. I told the kids we weren’t worried of times ahead of the meet. I just wanted them to race against those other jerseys.”
Fife said that his team ran in a pack for the first three-quarters of a mile before breaking off. However, each runner always had at least one teammate nearby.
“We never really had anyone out on their own which was nice,” Fife said. “We were always finding other guys on our team to run with. You always run better when you have a teammate nearby. They challenged themselves and pushed a little harder to compete.”
Fife expects the Owls to battle with Jennings County several more times this season.
“Jennings County is a good team,” Fife said. “They’re going be very good again this year, they’re going to develop their depth. They have good front runners. I’m sure we will have some good battles before we’re all done.”
Senior Cameron Lee led Brownstown with his 25th-place finish in 19:54.
The Braves’ Harlan Deaton was 31st (20:22) and Jeremy Pitts placed 44th (21:15) right before teammate Trey Hackman (46th, 21:20).
Aaron Kruse rounded out the scoring five, as he got 50th in 21:36.
“Overall, we ran about where we thought we would run,” Braves coach Derrick Koch said. “Pack-wise, we have some work to do. Our No. 4 and No. 5 runners need to be up a little higher with the No. 2 and No. 3. We had too big of a gap, that’s what we need to work on.”
On the girls’ side, Seymour took the top-3 finishes and had five in the top 7.
Sophomore Ashton Chase won the meet in 20:57, freshman Makenna Sunbury was next in 21:20 and junior Abby Voss claimed third in 21:38.
Claire Loebker’s time of 21:58 was good enough for fifth, and freshman Grace Rennekamp was seventh in 23:07.
Others receiving medals for the Owls included Brett Kleber (10th, 23:58.5), Oriana Morales (14th, 24:22) and Sarah Benefiel (15th, 24:40).
Last year’s invite winner, Seymour junior Emma Brock, didn’t run due to injury.
“We have some injuries we’re trying to get through, so it’s nice to see our two freshman step in there and help,” Owls girls coach Spencer Sunbury said. “I’m looking forward to a great season.”
Sunbury said that his team’s time were much slower than he expects moving forward.
“The only reason the times were slower was because of the rain,” Sunbury said. “I would bet 40 percent of it was underwater. There was no traction through the woods. I think Ashton and Makenna’s times were well off a minute of where they should be.”
While the team didn’t stay in a pack most of the way Sunbury was happy with another aspect of the race.
“I think that there were a couple runners that jumped out at the start, and it got us spooked, and it broke the pack up a little early,” he said. “One thing I was impressed with was the finishes. I’m not used to seeing kicks towards the end this early, some of the girls really finished strong in the last quarter mile. It’s good to see we already have that mentality of finishing strong.”
Brownstown Central was just bested by three points for a second-place finish as the Braves got third behind Jeffersonville.
Sophomore Kaelyn Johnson was the low time for the Braves in 24:16 (13th).
Emma Winks got 17th by crossing the line in 24:43.7 and 21st place went to sophomore Kaylee Drake in 24:53 for the Braves.
The Braves’ Destiny Satterthwaite was 24th in 25:18, Grace Garland ran a 25:28 for 27th, and Alexis Koch got 28th by clocking 25:32.
Brownstown girls coach Maria Conklin was pleased with her team’s performance.
“They ran really hard, the effort was there,” Conklin said. “For the most part, we ran really well. We’re really young — I have seven freshman, three sophomores, six juniors and a senior. We’re still learning. For about 10 of them, it was their first race ever.”
Both Brownstown Central and Seymour will compete at the Bedford North Lawrence Invitational on Monday.