Big day for local runners at BVI

Baublitz, Huskies have strong showing

Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Juniata’s Garrett Baublitz crosses the finish line first to win the varsity boys race at the Big Valley Invitational cross country meet Saturday in Reedsville.

MILROY — Juniata’s Garrett Baublitz captured the overall boys’ championship, while the Mifflin County duo of Chayce Macknair and Brayden Harris finished first and second in the Class 3A division at the Big Valley Invitational on Saturday.

Baublitz, second at the BVI a year ago, crossed the finish line in 16:21 to give the Indian junior his first Big Valley title.

“I’m very happy. It’s a big honor to win this race. There are a lot of great teams here,” Baublitz said. “The talent is phenomenal here. I’m just ecstatic to win it. I feel very good. I’m excited to see how the season goes for me and my team.”

Baublitz didn’t have any particular strategy for the race — just get out quickly and stay near the front.“I didn’t have much of a plan. I wanted to get a fast start and either lead it or stay in the head pack. I ended up leading it and it just worked out that way. I didn’t plan for that it just happened. I’m happy it went that way. I got to control the race a little bit,” Baublitz said.

Baublitz clocked in with a slower time than a year ago. Juniata coach Jeff Miller said the plan was to run a tactical race, not focusing on time.

“I thought he would keep going with it, but he had a lot of guys behind him that he respected, they’ve run some great races, so he kind of waited up for them,” Miller said. “He’s confident with his leg speed and finishing, so he kind of ran more of tactical race. The time wasn’t what we wanted. We thought he’d go under 16 today, but it’s a win and this early of the season we aren’t really focusing on time. I already know he’s ahead of last season. He’s fitter and faster than last year.”

The Husky duo of Macknair and Harris finished neck-and neck down the stretch with Macknair breaking the tape in 16:28, good enough for third overall, and Harris coming in with a time of 16:29 for a fourth-place overall finish.

“This was a really good learning experience today. We were in a pack the entire time and moving at a really good pace,” Macknair said. “Basically, at the end, there was a move put on to where there was only four of us out in front and I put on a kick at the end to finish third. The main thing I have to do is build up each week and get better at my finish.”

Harris said having a teammate like Macknair to push him is invaluable for the sophomore’s growth as a runner.

“I ran pretty good. I kind of felt dead on the last mile to the finish, but it’s the first race of the season and after that, it should get better. We all have bad days. It’s a new year. I want to have fun with it,” Harris said. “I’m going to miss him when he’s gone. Probably next year I’ll be by myself with just Chase Sheaffer, so I’m going to enjoy every race I have with him.”

Their performance helped propel Mifflin County to a second-place team finish with 92 points. State College won the event with 53 points.

“We were expecting them to do well. You have to take care of yourself you can’t take care of who you’re running against,” Mifflin County boy’s coach Greg Loht said. “We knew Baublitz had a shot at winning and we knew Penns Valley had two good runners. To go three-four here is quite an accomplishment.”

Chase Sheaffer (17:48) was next placing 17th, followed by Seth Phillips (18:05) in 22nd.

“I was a little concerned with how we’d perform. Chase Sheaffer just got back from a long trip. Seth Phillips looked better than he did last year, but he’s still not where we need him,” Loht said. “We are a good team. We have to develop our back runners up to be even better. We have a lot of depth this year and that helps.”

Juniata finished fourth in Class 2A and ninth overall. Clay Yeager (18:25) came in 30th while Albert Heister (18:50) placed 42nd.

On the girls’ side, Joy Galbraith placed eighth overall for Mifflin County with a time of 20:44 — seven spots higher than last season.

“We worked really hard over the summer to improve and get better. We have a great bunch of girls and great coaches,” Galbraith said. “My goal today was to get out there and try to stick with the top group. I tend to start to quickly and then die.”

Lauren Kuykendall (21:41) at 17th was the only other Husky harrier in the top 20.

For their efforts, the Huskies finished fourth in the overall team standings with 178 points. State College won the event with 24 points.

Juniata had three girls run with Emily Houtz leading the way. The sophomore came in 24th with a time of 22:18.

Jordan Reed of State College won the girl’s race with a time of 19:55.

Mifflin County hosts Cumberland Valley on Tuesday, while Juniata competes at the Kutztown Invitational on Saturday.

Big Valley Invitational

Boys

Mifflin County

3. Chayce Macknair, 16:28; 4. Brayden Harris, 16:29; 17. Chase Sheaffer, 17:48; 22. Seth Phillips, 18:05; 46. Mason Schomaker, 18:56.

Juniata

1. Garrett Baublitz, 16:19; 30. Clay Yeager, 18:25; 42. Albert Heister, 18:50; 57. James Hazzard, 19:41; 69. Zebulon Ames, 20:15.

Girls

Mifflin County

8. Joy Galbraith, 20:44; 17. Lauren Kuykendall, 21:41; 46. Julia Montgomery, 23:16; 52. Morgan Robinette, 23:51; 55. Rachel King, 24:03 .

Juniata

24. Emily Houtz, 22:18; 55. Carli Walters, 23:49; 68. Sydney Houtz, 24:29.

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