FREMONT - It wasn't perfect, but it was the closest anyone's ever come, and that was about the only thing close about it.
Sophomore Wes Pipher out-kicked junior teammate Jason Willman over the final stretch to narrowly capture the individual crown and only Old Fort's Marcus Meyers' third kept Seneca East from a perfect score of 15 Saturday as the Tigers sailed past runner-up Hopewell-Loudon 18-73 at the Midland Athletic League Championships.
"My assistant coaches did some research on lowest score ever in the boys meet and it was 19 points and we scored 18. The Meyer kid kind of broke up our perfect score," Seneca East coach Doug Mason said with a laugh, "but he's a good runner, he's having a great season, and we obviously had a great day."
The Tigers had to look amongst themselves for the greatest challenge, and that played out right until the end, with Pipher outracing Willman to win in 16:24.67. Willman finished in 16:24.91.
"I feel great being able to beat him," Pipher said, adding he knows Willman will look to return the favor at the district meet. 'He's got that competitiveness. He got beat, so he'll come back next week and just push me even harder, like I'll push him."
It's just the latest example of a team-wide competitive streak, Mason said.
Midland Athletic League Championships
Seneca East 18, Hopewell-Loudon 73, Carey 93, Old Fort 98, Calvert 132, Mohawk 151, Lakota 164, North Baltimore 235, Fremont St. Joe 256
1. Wes Pipher (SE) 16:24.67; 2. Jason Willman (SE) 16:24.91; 3. Marcus Meyers (OF) 16:33.34; 4. Carson Pipher (SE) 16:35.24; 5. Jared Stockmaster (SE) 16:43.83; 6. Karl Burgderfer (SE) 16:56.07; 7. Chet Swartzmiller (H-L) 17:22.62; 8. Jorden Nye (SW) 17:24.04; 9. Brad Bannister (OF) 17:30.57; 10. Bryce Watson (SE) 17:31.48
Seneca East: 18. Michael Szabo 18:00.26; 23. Robby Schaffer 18:11.37; 24. Brady McWilliams 18:11.75; 43. Ben Frankart 19:15.32; 47. Elliott Hoepf 19:20.85; 63. Alex Buckley 20:25.68; 75. Tommy Solis 21:46.0
Hopewell-Loudon: 13. Robert Kniss 17:44.57; 16. Patric Gase 17:53.1; 19. Marcus Ardner 18:02.92; 22. Ryan Depinet 18:08.42; 25. Dylan Napier 18:17.52; 28. Bernie Somers 18:24.47; 44. Nick Scaife 19:15.82; 54. Garrett Hedrick 19:52.82; 60. Collin Shaver 20:17.54; 66. Dylan Alvarado 20:48.77; 88. Zach Rhodes 25:39.96
Carey: 11. Ben Kromer 17:36.75; 14. Brayden Leist 17:52.68; 17. Zach Logsdon 17:56.54; 27. Michael Patton 18:21.6; 33. Evan Hyatt 18:40.91; 38. Thomas Arrendondo 19:00.57; 46. Adam Hyatt 19:19.33; 52. Clayton Brickner 19:46.16; 55. Ian Hagley 20:05.22; 76. Sage Gerbers 21:52.71; 78. Bailey Griffin 22:08.54; 79. Matt Fruth 22:10.7; 87. Uriel Garcia 25:38.8
Old Fort: 20. Donald Young 18:04.41; 26. Elliot Phillimore 18:20.58; 53. A.J. Phillimore 19:51.12; 69. Marc Harris 21:03.8; 84. Matt Kelbley 23:51.83; 86. Eli Payne 25:26.07; 91. Jon Miller 27:09.18
Calvert: 12. Austin Schultz 17:41.96; 21. Ren Boehler 18:07.64; 31. Shane Boehler 18:28.86; 40. Joe Boehler 19:09.7; 41. John Brodman 19:12.64; 49. Connor Behm 19:21.8; 59. Jacob Vera 20:15.81; 62. Sam Shelt Palm 20:25.39; 65. Zach Dutro 20:42.52
Mohawk: 15. Alex Hoerig 17:52.87; 29. Jarred Shellhouse 18:28.47; 30. Mitch Brown 18:28.69; 48. Chris Koehler 19:21.32; 50. Mike Lasky 19:28.98; 61. Kevin Kozel 20:23.06; 68. Alex Dundore 20:56.32; 74. Brandon Emshoff 21:45.65; 83. Brandon Allomong 23:50.86
Lakota: 32. Zac Baker 18:32.03; 34. Luke Baker 18:41.23; 35. Caleb Tolento 18:42.46; 37. Tyler Aldrich 18:54.86; 42. Matt Steiner 19:14.05; 51. Isaac Ritter 19:42.6; 70. Chris Vanderbeke 21:06.35; 71. Anthony Rasp 21:14.97; 72. Austin Shull 21:18.02; 81. Ben Gabel 22:13.5; 92. Adrian Vanderbeke 27:43.55
St. Wendelin: 82. Rodney Park 22:56.73; 85. Jacob Wagner 24:23.57; 90. Levi Tobin 26:01.63
New Riegel: 39. Caleb Welly 19:08.82; 67. Brad Zoeller 20:52.86
"If you came to our practices and watched how competitive it is, what you saw there at the end, that's the way practice is every day amongst our team," he said. "That's one of the reasons why we're a good team, our practices. They're competitive kids. They get abused and get beat by one another, and it's just from day to day, and that's why we do have a very good team."
It showed Saturday.
Sophomore Carson Pipher (16:35.24), sophomore Jared Stockmaster (16:43.83) and senior Karl Burgderfer (16:56.07) clocked in fourth through sixth, with sophomore Bryce Watson's 10th (17:31.48) and sophomore Michael Szabo's 18th (18:00.26) rounding out the Seneca East varsity.
It marked the second week in a row where the team's top five finished in the top six individually, and Saturday's effort had that group all within a 32-second window.
"You don't see that much in cross country meets, that kind of team domination, and it's one of the reasons why we're ranked third in the state and we feel we have a chance at a state trophy," Mason said.
"That's what we're going to have to have, we're going to have to have a pack time like we did today [if we want a state title]," he said.
The honors didn't end there for the Tigers.
The meet's top eight runners gained first-team honors, with the second eight getting second-team and those finishing 17th through 24th landing on the honorable mention list.
All seven varsity Tigers picked up awards, along with two other teammates - Robby Schaffer (18:11.37) and Brady McWilliams (18:11.75) ran 23rd and 24th.
"That's pretty good for us, so not only did our top guys have a good day, those guys had a great day," Mason said.
"They work just as hard and they get better because they practice every day with that group of kids," he said. "It really goes with the depth and the quality of kids and how hard they work. To get nine guys all-conference says a lot about them."
Meanwhile, Chet Swartzmiller captured seventh (17:22.62) and Robert Kniss came in 13th (17:44.57) to fuel Hopewell-Loudon's runner-up finish.
Patric Gase added a 16th (17:53.1) for the Chieftains, Marcus Ardner came in 19th (18:02.92) and Ryan Depinet took 22nd (18:08.42).
"They ran well. Their places were good," H-L coach Marie Coleman said. "All but my No. 12 guy ran faster today than they did at the St. Joe Invite [on the same course] a week and a half ago, so we're moving in the right direction.
"It's always important to get that little motivation, the feeling that you're heading in the right direction," she said.
Carey held off Old Fort 93-98 for third, followed by Calvert (132), Mohawk (151), Lakota (164), North Baltimore (235) and Fremont St. Joe (256).
Ben Kromer's 11th (17:36.75) and Brayden Leist's 14th (17:52.68) paced Carey. Zach Logsdon added a 17th (17:56.54) to also gain league honors for the Blue Devils.
Meyers crossed the line third in 16:33.34 to top Old Fort. Brad Bannister added a ninth (17:30.57) and Donald Young came in 20th (18:04.41).
Austin Schultz of Calvert claimed 12th (17:41.96) and Ren Boehler took 21st (18:07.64).
Mohawk's Alex Hoerig ran 15th (17:52.87) and Jarred Shellhouse ended 29th (18:28.47).
Zac Baker gave Lakota a 32nd (18:32.03) and Luke Baker ended 34th (18:41.23).
St. Wendelin and New Riegel did not field full teams.
Jorden Nye ran eighth (17:24.04) for St. Wendelin, and New Riegel's Caleb Welly came in 39th (19:08.82).