VIENNA — For the last two months, Carmi-White County senior Ty Barbre has juggled cross country, golf and online classes.
With one of those balls now in the bag, barring a last-minute change of heart from the IHSA that would bring about state tournaments for fall sports, Barbre merely has to mix in cross country with his schoolwork for the next month.
On Thursday, Barbre looked ready to run with the region’s best when he cruised to a lopsided win in the Black Diamond Conference meet at Tunnel Hill State Trail. His clocking of 15:32.8 was nearly 90 seconds ahead of runnerup and teammate Tanner Spence.
“I haven’t had great mileage the last couple of weeks because I’ve had a lot going on,” Barbre said. “But I feel I’m getting close to where I was. This was a positive race for me because I was close to the 5:10 pace where I was at the start of the year.”
While Barbre dominated the individual competition, Fairfield came up with a balanced performance to squeeze past Vienna and Hamilton County for the team title. The Mules had no one finish higher than Austin Schuster’s sixth place, but placed all five runners in the top 11 for a team score of 41, seven fewer than the Eagles and 14 less than the Foxes.
That Barbre was able to get up to speed served as a pleasant surprise in a way. He’s devoted most of his athletic energy to golf, where he finished third at the Class 1A Zeigler-Royalton Sectional on Tuesday.
That effort would have been good enough to earn a trip to the state tournament, if such a thing existed in this pandemic year. Since it doesn’t, Barbre is now investing his physical resources in running three miles faster than everyone else.
His tune-up for the Class 1A Hamilton County Regional on October 24 did nothing but encourage him. While different courses obviously lead to different races and times, the fact his time was comparable with Benton standouts Reece Johnson (15:26) and Gavin Genesio (15:44) at the SIRR Ohio meet leads one to think that trio could have a heck of a race.
“I have to take them seriously, but I like my chances,” Barbre said. “I’m healthy and I’m racing full-time now. I respect that they are great runners, so it will take a lot from me to beat them or equal them. It’s going to be fun to run against them.”
On the girls’ side, it was all Hamilton County. The Foxes put five runners in the top seven to easily win the team title with a minuscule score of 18, and junior Maddie Karcher’s time of 19:22.3 was 29 seconds clear of teammate Hannah Moore.
Karcher felt she was going to run a good race all day. The weather, which changed Thursday morning to cool and occasionally drizzly, seemed to give her a jolt of energy. She liked the relatively flat course, and her performance reflected all the good vibes.
“It was a beautiful day to run,” she said. “It’s my favorite kind of weather to run in. My body felt pretty good and it was an awesome course. You don’t worry about overheating on a day like this.”
While Benton will likely enter Hamilton County’s regional next Saturday as the favorite, Karcher thinks the Foxes have a chance to win. She likes running on this year’s course, located at the high school, and feels they could post fast times on the flat layout.
“We run the course every day, so it’s an advantage for us,” Karcher said. “We’ve run on courses with hills throughout the season and flat courses like this, so ours compares well to the courses we’ve run this season.”
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