Shelbyville cross country ran a history-making race on Saturday, scalding the competition in the 41st Annual St. Joe Spartan Classic.
The #5 state-ranked Shelbyville Rams won another meet, but not just any meet. And, they did it in style. The Rams had the fastest time at St. Joe in school history, winning the meet for only the second time in 30 years. They also easily defeated conference foe and #6 state ranked Monticello, who finished in second place. The Rams scored just 77 points, almost twice as good as Monticello, who had 134 points.
It was historic, according to coach Kevin Kramer.
"There were nine state ranked teams and over 178 runners," said Coach Kramer. "This is one of the biggest wins in the cross country program history.”
at Shelbyville. This meet has been around forty-one years and is considered one of the top two or three class 1A meets in the state. To win this meet is a great honor. I couldn't be happier for the guys.
"This is something we had circled on the calender that we wanted to win before the season. Shelbyville has only won this meet one other time and that was in 1982. Team members of the 1982 were Phil Maton, Jim Maton, Jerry Yockey, Mark Grabb, and Mike Shaffer and they ran a team time of 1:20.56. In winning the Classic the Rams also broke the school record of 1:20.0 by the 1999 team of Lucas Kramer, Jerod Galvin, Jimmy Hood, Doug Powers, and Nic Dannebarger.
"The 2012 Rams ran a 1:19.50 to beat the old record by ten seconds. Its a great accomplishment. The course the last three years is a little longer than what the other guys ran before them so to break the record on a longer course is even more impressive. The guys have worked extremely hard and deserve every success they have had this year."
Leading the way for the Rams for the second week in a row was senior Neil Yockey, placing 6th (15:33), a personal best.
"Neil improved his time by thirty-three seconds and puts his time at #11 on the all time list. Neil has had an excellent week of practice and I could see this coming," said Coach Kramer.
Next in for the Rams was senior Alex "Sparky" Matlock as he finished 12th in a time of 15:47.
"That put him at #20 on the all time list," Kramer said. "Alex continues to be very steady for us. He is one of our most dependable runners and I really expect him to continue to lead us this year."
Senior Cory Powers ran a personal and course best of 16:05 to place 19th.
"Cory ran the best race of his career, cutting 21 seconds off of his time from last year,
Coach Kramer said. "Cory has had a good two weeks of practice and, although he didn't run as good as he wanted to last week, he came back determined this week and ran a heck of a race. I am real happy for Cory. I think this will propel him to even better things to come."
The Rams then packed in their next three runners as all crossed the line in 16:12 for 24th, 25th, and 26th place. Junior Drennian Martin led freshman Marcus Skinner and fellow junior Jaden Stockdale through the chute.
"It was nice to see Drennian step up," Kramer said. "He has been injured, but has had a couple of good weeks of practice and is just starting to get in top shape. He went out a little too fast last week and felt more comfortable with his pace this week. Drennian cut 41 seconds off of his last year's time.
"Jaden and Marcus continue to run well together and are really giving us some depth. They both are really tough runners and though they are not very big they have a huge amount of heart and determination that is an honor to coach."
The seventh runner in for the Rams was senior Seth Applegate.
"Seth ran a 16:30 for 39th place giving the Rams all seven runners in the top 40," Coach Kramer said. "Seth went out a little fast the last mile but he is so much stronger this year that he was still able to hold on and tie his best time on the course. Seth is a great leader and will do anything for the team to succeed. He leads us on our distance runs and warm-ups and is really a key to our success."
Kramer further evaluated his team after their historic win.
"This team is just a joy to watch," Kramer said. "Alex and Neil have been pretty consistent as the top two, but the rest you just never know where they are going to finish. If one or two have a bad race, then someone steps up and does the job.
"Last week, Seth Applegate did it in helping us win the Tuscola Classic and this week Cory Powers and Drennian Martin got the job done. Jaden and Marcus have been pretty consistent also in the top five. And Kenton Wilson, even though he is not in the top seven, is probably the best 8th man in the state right now. That is how deep these this team is.
"We still have a lot of goals left to accomplish this season, so I am confidant that the guys will not be content where they are right now. We still have to get better, if we want to accomplish those goals. Even though we had a great pack time of :39 seconds 1-5 man today, we are going to have to get it under 30 seconds for the post season. We have a lot of work to do."
Molly Yockey led the way for Shelby in the girls race with a 20th place finish in a course best performance of 12:05.
"Molly improved from her time of 12:28 as a freshman last year," Coach Kramer said. "Molly's time puts her at #10 on the all time list of Shelbyville Lady Rams time at St. Joseph. Molly has been running great all season and today was no exception. Two miles is a little short for her. This is the only race that they do this. It has been run on the same course since 1972, so they keep it the same for tradition."
There were 168 runners in the race. Freshman Morgan Powers ran a 13:06 for 52nd place.
"We were hoping to get Morgan under 13:00, but she just came up a little short," Kramer said. "But she is doing a great job."
The Rams next compete at the Robinson Invitational on Thursday. There are several 2A schools that will be competing.
"That will be tough, along with some state-ranked 1A teams." Kramer said. "We will be working through the meet a little, but there is no reason we should not do real well at the meet."