The EP Panther Boys’ Cross Country team moved to 4-0 in their first home meet of the season defeating Rock Falls and Kewanee.
The Panthers were lead by Andrew Bomleny, who placed second in the meet, as the Panthers placed five runners in the top seven spots. EP scored an impressive 23 points well ahead of Rock Falls with 49 and Kewanee with 60.
Kewanee’s Colin VanStechleman had the fastest time of the night on the Lake Erie course with a time of 17:42, thirty-six seconds better than Bomleny.
EP’s Carter Jepson placed third in 18:28 with Luke DeNeve taking fifth followed directly by the Panther freshmen duo of Jacob Gibson and Charlie Link. Alex Gustaf and Parker Holldorf rounded out the Panthers top seven.
Bomleny said he felt strong throughout the race after struggling in the heat during the season opener in Rockridge last week placing fourth for the Panthers. “I felt really strong the entire race,” said the junior.
The Panthers ran last in the triangular meet with Rock Falls running first and Kewanee second in the IHSA socially distanced meet.
The Panther’a Luke DeNeve could not stop smiling after the race saying he was extremely happy with his performance. “I had more of a spark today. The second mile felt a lot better than last week and I felt better prepared today. Coach Liz Green said,”He (Luke) was on his “A” game today. He was ready to run and he keeps creeping up to our top runners.” DeNeve added “I got that runner’s high today. I had to make a statement and not let a freshman beat me again,” said the senior with a laugh.
The Lady Rockets took the first four spots in the girls’ race to easily defeat the Panthers. The Rockets scored a near perfect 17, while the Panthers totaled 44 points. Kewanee had four runners and did not qualify for a team score.
Rock Falls’ Calin Gaulrapp took first overall in 20:07, 9 seconds ahead of teammate Tayli Hutlin.
EP Junior Dylan Chandler took first for the Panthers and fifth overall in 21:45 battling teammate Jorden Robinson for the top spot before finally pulling away in the last 400 meters. Robinson finished sixth overall in 21:52. Chandler said,”I had not beaten Jorden before. I took the lead at the two mile mark and I really kicked the last 400.”
Panther freshman Jillian Norman took twelfth overall in her first race of the year followed by Madyson Bushaw in thirteenth. Another freshman Brooke Lalley placed fifth for the Panthers and fifteenth overall. Kara Schipper and Jade Nickerson, usually EP Volleyball players, finished out the Panthers top seven.
To the cross country purists, the site of just one team running on a course at time is hard to take, but the athletes seem to have adjusted. “I think the fact that we are running against each other makes it more competitive, said DeNeve. “I like this better. Even when you do beat someone, that person behind you always says “good job.” Running with friends is how I always thought of cross country.”
Green is just thankful her athletes are running. “It would be nice if we were all running together but we’re not, but I’m thankful the kids are giving their best efforts and their times are showing well. It doesn’t seem to be affecting them too much.’
The Panthers host Rockridge and Riverdale next Tuesday at Prophet Hills Country Club.