By Jeff Toquinto on September 20, 2019
Here’s one thing that’s become clear as the 2019 high school cross country season is in full swing. Bridgeport’s boys are pretty good. And the girls aren’t too bad either.
This past Saturday at the annual Charles Pointe-Indian Run Invitational, the Tribe boys finished first among a strong field of 13 teams. To date, the boys are undefeated .
“I think we did very well, especially considering how many of our kids are sick right now. I did a show of hands at practice and almost half the team is either sick or just getting over being sick. It’s not unusual for this kind of thing to happen a couple of weeks into the school year,” said Coach Jon Griffith. “Getting used to the daily grind of school and everyone is packed back into overcrowded classrooms, so the germs have a field day.”
The Indians had a field day at the Bridgeport Recreation Complex where the meet was held. They managed to win the showcase with 37 points, which was enough to hold off cross country rival Winfield with 38.
The Indians did it by managing to place four runners in the top 11. A total of 134 runners competed in the boys’ competition.
Leading the way, again, was the one-two punch of Jackson Jacobs and Cade Robinson as they finished second and third, respectively. Jacobs finished with a time of 17 minutes, 22.2 seconds, while Robinson was right behind with a time of 17 minutes, 32.5 seconds.
To make matters worse for the rest of the field, Trey Martin and Bailey DeMoss were also in the mix. Martin finished seventh with a time of 17 minutes, 57.3 seconds and DeMoss at the No. 11 spot had a time of 18 minutes, 6.3 seconds.
“To finish second, third, seventh, and 11th is pretty good in a field of 134 runners, and three of them not at 100 percent. As a group, they (Jacobs, Robinson, Martin and DeMoss) are very committed and training well,” said Griffith. “Winfield ran a very good race as well on Saturday, I give them a lot of credit. Their program and ours seem to parallel each other a lot. They and Fairmont Senior are both very strong; we have to stay focused and keep working hard.”
The rest of Bridgeport’s field was far from weak. In fact, eight more runners came in the top 32 with Landon Burns (17th), Caleb Holbert (20th), Brennan Cropp (24th), Cole Bracken (25th), Ty Gandy (26th), Kyle McCarthy (31st), and Mason Titchenal (32nd).
“That is the type of depth we like to see; we just need them to move up closer to the top four. The gap between our fourth runner and the next pack is still too large,” said Griffith. “I challenged that group to see who wants to step up and push themselves to close that gap. If one or two can do that, it will put us in a pretty good position for the end of the year.”
On the girls’ side, Bridgeport finished in second place with 75 points. In front of them was Winfield with an impressive total of 28. Fairmont Senior, with 90 points, came in third place among 12 teams.
“The girls ran well, but injury and sickness took their toll. There is definitely nothing to be upset about in falling to Winfield. They have an outstanding team that includes several girls who also star on their soccer team,” said Griffith. “In spite of our injury and illness issues, we competed strongly.
“Of our top five, two are a little injured, two are sick and one just got over being sick. The fact that they all five ran Saturday amazes me. I gave them the option of sitting out, but not one of those girls did,” he continued. “They are committed to their team and refuse to let each other down. I admire and respect their strength of character.”
The girls were also led by familiar names. Emerson Grafton finished as the runner-up with a time of 21 minutes, 2.9 seconds. Madison Looker was in ninth place with a showing of 22 minutes, 36.9 seconds.
“Emerson just got over being sick. Her time should have been a little bit better but did very well. I am anxious to see how she does as the season progresses and she regains her strength,” said Griffith. “Madison was running very well but tweaked her hamstring a little on one of the hills during the race. She finished the race, but I am glad we have a little time with this week off to get her back to 100 percent. She is learning a lot as a freshman and is progressing very well.”
Bridgeport’s next two finishers were Brooke Wagner and Allison Hess. Wagner finished 19th and Hess came in at 21st.
“Brooke and Allison…what can I say? Both had the option to sit this meet out, but were determined to run, even though they were sick,” said Griffith. “As seniors, that kind of commitment sets a tone for the rest of the team. “
Emma Campbell continues to work back from injury and has moved into the fifth spot. That was good for No. 25 this past Saturday.
“I am certain that she is not content with that status. She is a fighter and will continue to climb the ranks,” said Griffith. “Kaitlin Pappas (No. 31 overall) and Charlie Grafton (No. 34 overall) finished sixth and seventh for us and are continuing to improve. Hopefully they can continue to push the girls in front of them, if not pass them.”
The meet, which is the Tribe’s only regular home season event of the year, went well, according to Griffith.
“The only real issue is that we don’t have grass in on portions of the course and we still need to level out the slope on a few places. The course will be fantastic once those things are done,” said Griffith. “Next year we should have one of the best courses in the state. As the field and parking areas around the new indoor complex are completed, we will be able improve spectator parking and viewing.
“We are considering moving the meet to a later weekend in September when the temperatures are a little cooler and then we can expand the event. I want to reinstate the collegiate races we have had in the past and possibly separate into varsity and junior varsity races for the high schools and middle schools,” he continued. “My goal is to once again have this meet be one of the biggest and best meets in the state.”
None of it, he said, couldn’t help without volunteers and organizations that assisted. Griffith thanked, the volunteers, the BHS T&F/XC Parents Association, the school administration, Bridgeport EMS, Bridgeport Fire, Bridgeport Police, Bridgeport Parks and Recreation, Charles Pointe, Genesis Partners, the Green River Group, CEC, the starters, announcers, the awards presenters, his assistant coaches, the concession stand workers, the ATV drivers, the course spotters, the finish line workers, the unofficial team photographers, the Bridgeport Road Warriors, the Sip Station, Cody’s, Fine Designs, and others.
“I may have forgotten someone, I often do, but know you are thanked as well. All of them have earned my respect and my undying gratitude,” the coach said.
Bridgeport has a rare weekend off. The Tribe will compete in the Ritchie Invitational at North Bend State Park Sept. 28. The event begins at 11 a.m.