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Philip boys take third place as a team at state cross country meet

Records broken ... Back row, from left: Tristen Rush, Blake Martinez, Zane Pekron, William Coyle, Kelvin Ferguson and coach Ralph Kroetch. Front: Allison Pekron, Holly Iwan and student manager Sam Stangle. The boys took third as a team, Philip’s best ever as a “B” school. Only the top 25 places at the state cross country meet earn medals. After various years each, Coyle, Z. Pekron and Iwan are in an elite circle of only five multiple state medal winners from Philip. This year, Iwan took eighth place, Z. Pekron took 21st, and Coyle took 13th place.

The Philip Scottie cross country team completed a highlight-filled 2010 season on Huron's Broadland Golf Course Saturday, October 24.

Holly Iwan was one of 110 entries in the girls' state "B" race, which began under cloudy skies and in a light breeze on a 60 degree day. All races began with a 400-plus meter straight, before a strong right-hand turn that has pushed many runners back as they attempt to navigate the turn. Iwan's experience and a great start box of 26th of 30 (on the left side) put her on the left-hand side of the pack, avoiding stride-breaking contact of the inside lane.

Safely around that corner, Iwan found herself in 18th place and with a little running room. By mid-race, when assistant coach Carol Kroetch yelled that Iwan was in seventh place, Iwan later reported, "I thought I was in ninth place! How did that happen?" As the race came around, Iwan found herself in a long sprint with Arlington's Jana Sampson, and leading Lemmon's Haley Froelich, the champion from Philip's region. Iwan finished her best state race to date, in eighth place with a time of 16:04 over the 4,000 meter course, giving her an improvement of 35 seconds over her previous best state time. She moved up one spot over her 2009 and 2008 finishes. In 2007, Iwan earned the 20th place medal.

Her four state medals put her at the forefront of an elite trio of Philip multiple state medalists. Keri Hanson earned 14th place in 1995 and 10th in 1996, and Jaris Kroetch earned seventh in 1994 and 13th in 1998. Lisa Rush, earning 15th place in 1984, is Philip's only other female state medalist.

For the boys' "B" 5,000-meter race, Philip started its full team of five in start box number 27. Senior Zane Pekron's early job was to get his team off with the right start just as he had done in the region meet. Even with five year's state experience, Pekron did admit later that the first mile felt very fast, but he had to keep the team at the front of the main group of runners. Junior William Coyle worked off of his teammate through the start, but inside that first mile began his job of pulling the team up the long thin line. Eighth grader Tristen Rush ran by Coyle's shoulder through the start, then by Pekron's shoulder as the race stretched out. Eighth grader Blake Martinez and junior Kelvin Ferguson's job as team pushers were to keep their lead trio in sight and everyone possible behind them. With great expectations, Coyle had moved up as high as sixth place. Pekron, seeming to often to draw a crowd at mid-race, found himself near the front of a group of eight runners all pushing for approximately 18th place. Rush, though only a few seconds behind his senior teammate, was setting in 45th position. Martinez and Ferguson were each running strong in places near the mid-90s.

Coyle pushed through the pain to outrun James Valley Christian's Donnie Decker by one second. He trailed Lemmon's Cody Schapp, who had bettered Coyle by over 30 seconds at regions, by eight-tenths of a second. Coyle clocked 18:04, 11 seconds faster than his 2009 state meet and an improvement from 19th to 13th place. He proved to be a key in the Scottie team count.

Pekron, in a 25-pack with less than a half mile remaining, drew on his conditioning to overtake four runners. The last was Oldham/Ramona/Rutland's Jacob Cassutt by just three-tenths of a second. Pekron clocked 18:20, a five second improvement over his 2009 state time and three places, giving him the 21st place medal.

Rush charged the last mile. Setting in 30th place as he topped the last hill, he out sprinted two juniors and a senior to place 27th with a time of 18:31 in his first state meet. Martinez used a strong final mile to overtake Frederick's Trevor Podell and two of his Wall rivals who had finished ahead of him at region. Martinez clocked 20:55 and earned 81st place in his first state meet. Ferguson used a strong finish to split runners from Herreid/Selby and Gettysburg as he finished his third straight state meet. His time was 22:26 and place was 102nd.

Coyle and Pekron join the elite circle of multiple state medal winners from Philip High School.

In an extremely tight team count, the Scotties accumulated 38 points and placed third, just six points behind state champion Parker and four points back of runner-up Irene Wakonda. This put Philip two points in front of fourth place Lemmon, our region champion. The fifth place team was Alcester/Hudson with 41 points. Wall, third in our region, finished in sixth place with 44 points.

The boys' third place is their best ever "B" division team placing and second only to the 1987 runner-up Scotties "A" division team.

The Scotties have experienced success this year. For the girls - conference runner-up, regional fifth place, and an individual eighth place at state. For the boys - conference champions, regional runner-up, and third place at state, with two individual state medalists. It seems sad to see it come to an end. At the same time, we can hardly wait for it to start again next year.