North Oldham hosted its annual Rumble Through the Jungle meet on Sept. 10 at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve.
Oldham County showed out in both the girls and boys meets, taking second and third, respectively.
North Oldham used balanced efforts to finish sixth in the boys race and seventh in the girls race.
South Oldham placed just inside the top half of both races with a ninth place finish in the girls race and an 11th place finish in the boys race.
Oldham County’s girls team finished handily in second place at the familiar course with a final score of 55 points, 70 points ahead of third place Daviess County.
“Their familiarity with the course definitely helped. We were jogging the course this morning, and they were talking about which ones were hard ones and which downhills they could use,” OCHS coach Kirk Thomas said. “They love the woods part of it. It’s not an easy course or fast course, but everyone seems to like it.”
Tula Fawbush won the race going away, beating Assumption’s Julia Schmitt by 41 seconds.
“Tula had a big improvement – she ran this race way better than she did last year,” Thomas said.
All five of the Lady Colonels’ point scorers finished inside the top 21, but it wasn’t nearly enough to beat first place Assumption, which occupied five of the top 10 spots in the meet on its way to a score of 28 points.
“Assumption has a really solid team. They’re kind of like we were a few years ago,” Thomas said. “We’re just going to go out and work as hard as we can, train as smart as we can and not focus too much on what Assumption is doing.”
Kaylee Nay, Grace Wayland, Hope Boa and Sammy Freeland took 9th, 15th, 17th, and 21st, respectively.
“We wanted four of our girls in the top 10, and Kaylee Nay made it. We had a couple that were just off that, but we’re pretty happy overall,” Thomas said. “Hope Boa and Amber Fusner both improved their times from this race last year.”
Oldham County’s boys team continued a strong start to 2022 with a third place finish at 120 points, just three tallies behind Eastern and 13 behind St. Henry.
“Our goal was top four, so they got that. We were right there with Eastern, so we feel like that’s a team we can run with,” Thomas said. “It’s looking like, if the guys stay healthy and keep improving, they’re going to have a shot to have their highest finish they’ve had in a long time at state.”
Ian Hobbs led the county with a second place finish for the Colonels.
“Ian had a really solid race this week,” Thomas said. “We’ve been working with him because he went out a little too quick in the first two races and started struggling in his third mile and getting passed. He started more conservatively today and held his position and gained a few points.
Hobbs was followed by Matthew Whitlock in 13th, Sean Crady in 16th, JT Bottorff in 41st and Kyle Crady in 57th.
“We knew Matthew Whitlock was going to be a great runner for us last year as a freshman, but he ended up with a season ending injury. Now he’s back now and running really well,” Thomas said. “Sean Crady has improved big time, and then JT has been shaving off time the last couple races and moving up big. This is the first time Kyle Crady been back at varsity coming off an injury, and we’re expecting him to get back up to where his brother (Sean Crady) was, which would be a big gain for us.”
While both teams are happy to place well at meets such as Rumble Through the Jungle the buildup of their training towards the postseason is paramount.
“The meets are fun, and it’s good to go out and race, but we’re not super concerned with where we’re placing right now,” Thomas said. “We training hard, and we’re not resting up. We’re just going to go hard through the season, and we’ll start dialing back the mileage a bit in October and picking up the speed work a bit.”
North Oldham’s boys team finished in sixth place with 195 points, just 11 points outside of the top five.
“We won Rumble last year – which was awesome – but to be perfectly honest, my goal every year is just that everybody likes it and nobody gets hurt,” North Oldham coach Brian Ruggles said. “I think we had kind of a mixed bag as far as results go.”
The Mustangs likely would’ve cracked the top five were it not for top runner Adam Patel missing the race due to illness.
“He’s been recovering from a cold, and he has a cough that he just can’t get rid of, so we made a last minute call to not run him,” Ruggles said.
Freshman Jasper Smith paced the Mustangs with a 17th place finish in his first Rumble Through the Jungle, followed by Henry Downs in 31st.
“Jasper and Henry both (set personal records). The Rumble course is not a fast course, so that’s great,” Ruggles said. “Jasper is getting better every week. This time, it looked like he kind of took it on himself to steadily move up.”
Behind Smith and Downs was Charley Townsend in 32nd, Brendan Ruggles in 54th and Tucker Lancaster in 76th. Every member of the group is stepping into larger roles this season, and Brian Ruggles is starting to see each runner come into their own.
“The other guys on varsity all had decent runs – nothing bad,” Brian Ruggles said. “Charley Townsend has not run high school cross country before this year and plays soccer, so he’s not even with us all the time. Then Henry, Tucker and Brenden were all kind of sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth guys last year on varsity last year. All of those guys besides Adam are starting to just figure out what it’s like to run a little faster and get into it with more competitive guys.”
North Oldham only had five runners compete in the girls race, but four finished inside the top 53 to help power the Lady Mustangs to a seventh place mark.
“We actually ran pretty well yesterday, and I was pretty pleased with it,” NOHS coach Brian Crumbo said. “To tell you the truth, we generally don’t run very well at this meet. The kids are hyped up and do like the meet, but a lot of times, they’re as interested in everything going on around the meet as they are the race itself.”
Riley Auton took 20th in her first Rumble Through the Jungle after not running cross country last year as a freshman.
“Riley ran her first 5K a week and a half ago, and it didn’t go great – she doesn’t know how to pace that, ran really hard and suffered because of that,” Crumbo said. “This time was much better. She was conservative, steady and moving up the whole race. It’s a learning process, and she’s going to be right where we need her by the end of the season.”
After Auton crossed, Janie Boyd finished in 36th, Vita Sensenbrenner finished 42nd and Bethany Ward finished 53rd.
“We’re still working on pace, but in terms of the talent and work ethic, they’re doing well,” Crumbo said.
The Lady Mustangs narrowly beat Christian Academy at the meet, a big feat for North Oldham, which is looking to recapture the region crown from the Lady Centurions in October.
“Yesterday was an ACT today, so there could’ve been some older kids that were out,” Crumbo said. “I haven’t actually looked to see who was on the course for them, but anytime we can beat them or see how we stack up, that’s a good thing for us.”
Strong performances at the top of both the boys and girls meets vaulted South Oldham’s team scores inside the half of both meets.
Abigail Crask finished fourth in the girls meet, and AJ Kern took sixth in the boys meet,
Other top performers for the Lady Dragons included Emily Jones in 49th, Jamie Gard in 54th and Brenna Miniard in 90th.
Rick Mshindi, Caeden Rairick, Jacob McBride placed 42nd, 63rd and 70th, respectively, in the boys meet.