FORT WAYNE — A large pack of boys’ runners at Saturday’s New Haven cross country semistate had one ’Cat emerge among the leaders.
Senior Brian Menzie fought off injury, bad luck and more throughout his career at Whitko to beat 152 other runners at Fort Wayne’s The Plex. Menzie’s eighth-place finish at the semistate level made him only the second Whitko boy to reach next Saturday’s state finals.
“It’s good to see such a nice kid and hard-worker to have that goal and persevere,” Whitko head coach Mike McKeighen said. “He’s a machine. He beats on himself and you can see it in his racing. He refuses to let up.”
It’s that hard work and drive that the entire Wildcat team follows. The only senior among Whitko’s top five runners, Menzie has been a part of the Wildcats second straight semistate team appearance in some ways because of his teammates.
“It feels pretty good,” Menzie said. “I worked really hard all year. The team worked really hard and helped push me the whole season.”
Whitko finished three spots out of a state finals spot in ninth overall with 259 points. The top six teams were capped off by No. 24 West Noble’s 168 points in sixth-place.
Other finishers for Whitko were: Trapper Mize 42nd, Jude Stieglitz 85th, Brody Wilson 95th, Dallas Asher 97th, Trent Walther 134th, Wade Eberly 141st.
Columbia City’s lone qualifier, junior Brenden Zoltek, finished his season as an individual placing 65th overall.
“I’m sure Brenden was disappointed not moving on but he had a great year,” Columbia City head coach Bob Fahl noted.
The Wildcats finished three points ahead of the same team they beat for a sectional championship in Huntington North.
The finish at the top of the standings came down to half a dozen points for the top three spots.
Despite not winning a sectional or regional title, No. 18 Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger were able to beat out No. 15 Mishawaka and No. 16 South Bend St. Joseph’s 94-98-100.
No. 13 Carroll’s fourth-place team finish was led by James Martin who became the only four-time semistate champion ever with a 14-second victory over second-place teammate Bradley Hess.