Mendon’s cross country dominance in the St. Joseph Valley League continued Tuesday, this time south of the border. The Hornets claimed victories at the rolling course at Bonneyville Mill Park in Bristol, Ind. — a conference quad hosted by White Pigeon and the third of the season.
All three league meets have gone in Mendon’s favor with one remaining.
The Mendon boys, ranked No. 9 in Division 4 and led by three-time SJV medalist Zach Darmofal (senior), won with 31 points. Centreville followed with 51, Bronson (64) was third and White Pigeon (90) placed fourth. On the girls side, freshman Mary Leighton won her seventh race of the season and third straight SJV quad en route to her team’s victory with 19 points. Bronson took second with 42 and Centreville (66) was third (White Pigeon didn’t have enough runners for a team score).
Darmofal navigated the undulating layout in 18 minutes, 17.5 seconds — 27 seconds faster than runner-up Matt Cosby of Bronson. Centreville’s Brady Reynolds finished third in 19:00.5, Mendon’s Michael Campbell was fifth in 19:23.8, teammate Joe Gales (19:31.6) was sixth, Centreville’s Chase Alexander crossed the line next in 19:38.8, fellow Bulldog Matthew Clementz (19:46.1) was eighth, Tyler Frisbie (Mendon) took ninth in 19:49.4 and Alex Heckman (Mendon) rounded out the top 10 in 20:04.1.
Click here for video interviews with Leighton and Darmofal.
“We’re doing pretty solid as a team right now,” Mendon coach Art Stephenson said. “For the individuals we’re trying to get some that want to get all-league. We’ve had some that didn’t place in the top before and some that didn’t run in one of the races. They need to do well in order to get all-league status at the end. It’s not just the final race that you get all-league at, which is nice because you have some opportunities.
“We have four league quads and each of them counts for a point each except for the last one; the last one counts double. People can shuffle around; teams can shuffle around.”
Leighton finished in 22:29.8, followed by teammates Jenna Gales (22:47.5) and Jenna Griffith (23:11.1). The Hornets’ Julia Sutter was fourth with a time of 24:09.8, Centreville’s Marissa Mohney (24:54.9) was seventh, Mendon’s Grace Leighton (25:06) placed eighth, White Pigeon’s Robyn Watson (25:11.8) finished ninth and fellow Chief Cheyenne Yoder was 10th in 15:14.2.
“The times average between a minute to a minute and a half slower here just because of all the hills,” Stephenson explained. “The kids know it, but it’s good work. They know this is a great workout for them. They need to race well here and not worry about times. It makes it fun.
“We have Mary that’s pushing to the 20s; she’s gotten in there a couple times. We’ve got a couple girls trying to inch to the 20s, stay in the 21s — low 21s. It makes for a solid team.”
The Mendon boys are starting to peak with regionals just around the corner.
“Right now we have three that are up there and we’re trying to get their times down even more,” Stephenson said. “We have four younger guys that are really working hard to get their times down; we’re trying to get them all down to the mid-18s. That’s the goal by the end of the year. They’re going to get there, I think. If we can get a couple in the 17s and one in the 16s we’ll be great.”