FRC Championship Sweep

Will Johnson
Sports Editor

HERMANN — Sweeping all four team titles last fall during the annual Four Rivers Conference (FRC) Cross Country meet at Owensville Golf Course (OGC), Matt Candrl’s Dutchmen and Dutchgirl harriers looked to duplicate the feat last Tuesday during this year’s meet north of Hermann at Loutre Shore Country Club (LSCC).

Starting the afternoon of racing was the varsity girls looking to become the three-time defending FRC team champions.

Conquering St. Clair as a freshman and OGC last year as a sophomore, junior Sophia Ashner added LSCC to her list of courses mastered.

Leading the varsity girl’s race wire-to-wire, Ashner won her fifth straight FRC individual title dating back to her middle school days with a winning time of 19:58.37.

Ashner was not the only varsity Dutchgirl to attain All-FRC honors in cross country with a top-10 finish.

Alesha Shockley placed fifth in a time of 21:17.84 followed eight seconds later by Paige Heckelmann with a seventh-place time of 21:29.68.

Sophomore Mekayla Gibson continued her successful season with All-FRC honors thanks to an eighth-place time of 21:32.88.

Katie Candrl rounded out the top 10 sneaking in just under the 22-minute mark with a 10th-place time of 21:57.39.

Rounding out Owensville’s contingency of varsity Dutchgirls were the senior trio of Abby Koepke (14th, 22:34.66), Wisdom Scott (32nd, 24:53.99) and Christyna Zheng (43rd, 26:40.15).

“These girls started this streak of (Four Rivers) conference titles as freshmen,” Coach Candrl said. “All of the girls ran really well today on a course they had just run two weeks ago.”

Next to take the course were the four-time defending FRC champion varsity Dutchmen.

In spite of seeing New Haven have three runners finish ahead of Owensville’s fifth runner, Candrl’s Dutchmen were able to edge the Shamrocks by a mere two points for their fifth consecutive FRC team title in cross country.

“I know it was going to close between us (Owensville), Hermann and New Haven,” Coach Candrl said.

 Breaking the 18-minute barrier, sophomore Austin Terry led OHS’ varsity harriers with a fourth-place time of 17:47.09.

After missing the Owensville Invitational the previous Tuesday, fellow sophomore Paul Tyree came back in a big way with a seventh-place time 18:03.74.

Bam Wizeman rounded out the top 10 and the list of All-FRC honorees in the varsity boy’s race with a 10th-place time of 18:13.22.

Also helping the Dutchmen edge New Haven by two points atop the team standings were Cameron O’Neal (13th, 18:33.17) and Treyden Williams (22nd, 19:09.86).

“I’m proud of this group of boys,” Coach Candrl said. “Since summertime, this group of boys has made the decision to do the little extra stuff, have the right attitude and work together as a team.”

Rounding out OHS’ contingency of varsity boys were Aden Steineker (33rd, 19:30.01), Devon Farris (46th, 21:32.73), Jacob Hall (57th, 27:05.53) and Tristan Heflin (58th, 30:59.92).

“This streak started with Carter Brocato and Sam Blackwell among others,” Coach Candrl said. “The guys dedicated their race today in Sam’s memory.”

Blackwell tragically died as a result of injuries sustained in an ATV accident earlier this year. 

Also looking to defend their FRC title from last year were Owensville’s junior varsity Dutchgirls.

Much like Ashner in the varsity girl’s race, OHS freshman Arissa Huff led her race from start to finish posting a winning time of 23:02.72.

“We know there’s a lot in there, it’s just getting it out of her,” Coach Candrl said.

Macy McKinney followed with a second-place time of 23:54.37. 

Kyra Binkhoelter joined the All-FRC parade for the JV Dutchgirls placing fifth in a time of 24:47.91.

Completing the top 10 and list of All-FRC honorees in the junior varsity girl’s race was the OHS trio of Isabelle Bruckerhoff (8th, 25:41.12), Molli Gross (9th, 26:54.37) and Julianna Watkins (10th, 27:12.54).

Alyssa Wehmeyer rounded out the JV Dutchgirl contingency with a 15th-place time of 29:42.07.

Topping Hermann by 12 points in the junior varsity boy’s team standings, Owensville was led by Freddy Zheng’s fourth-place time of 20:02.49.

“Freddy almost cracked 20 minutes today,” Coach Candrl said. “He’s one of those I want to be on varsity guys. He’s done the work and he got the right attitude.”

Christian Lowes improved on his eighth-place finish last year placing seventh this year in Hermann with a time of 20:38.59.

Dylan Fudge (9th, 20:49.63) and Sawyer Wright (10th, 20:59.34) secured the last two medals and All-FRC honors with their top-10 times.

“Sawyer has overcome a rolled ankle, sickness and a sprained wrist to earn a medal at the conference meet,” Coach Candrl said.

In spite of missing the top 10 and the medals by seven seconds, Harm Rademacher’s 11th-place time of 21:06.79 helped OHS hold off the host Bearcats.

Fellow JV Dutchmen able to celebrate another FRC title included Justin Garner (15th, 21:58.44), Edward DeLong (18th, 22:18.61) and Alexander Kellogg (24th, 26:58.37).