LINDEN — Ed Stuffle missed the First Annual Charger Classic in 1971, but the former North Montgomery cross country and track and field coach hasn’t missed one since, and wasn’t about to miss the 50th.
Stuffle, an Indiana Track and Field and Cross Country hall of fame coach, lined up more than a dozen teams for the start of both the girls’ and boys’ races Thursday night at North Montgomery for the 50th Annual Charger Classic cross country race.
Crawfordsville’s Hunter Hutchison paced the local teams with a second place finish in the boys’ race in a time of 17:21, while Southmont’s Faith Allen was third in 19:46 in the girls’ contest.
The Athenians’ placed second in the boys’ standings with 65 points, behind Lebanon’s 57. Ryan Miller was sixth in 17:41, Roman Contreras 18th in 19:03 and Nathaniel Million 21st with a time of 19:09. Ian Hensley was 25th in 19:25, Peter Kerns 31st in 19:45. Arthur Ruano rounded out Crawfordsville’s top-7 with a 44th place finish in a time of 20:13.
On the girls’ side, despite a sixth-place finish with 133 points, the Athenians saw a big jump, led by Shelby Greene’s 17th place finish in 22:34. Halle Smith was 22nd in 22:52, Elyse Widmer 29th in 23:05, and Skylah Strawser was 36th in 23:32. Olivia Biddle was 40th in 23:58. while Gabby Warren was 42nd in 24:33 and Karla Fernandez 45th.
“I think going into conference it’s important that they learn to run at least those first two miles as more of a pack than we had earlier in the season,” Crawfordsville coach Megan Craig said. “and we talked about that. It just keeps the girls at a faster pace.”
For Southmont, Aaron Evans led the Mounties in the boys’ race with a personal record time of 18:30, while Mason Cass filed in behind his teammate in 18:37.
“Aaron and Mason have been doing awesome,” Southmont coach Shelley Allen said. “They hit a huge milestone tonight going below 19 (minutes). When Mason joined the team this year, I told both of them at the very first practice that they need to be best friends, practice together, pace and run together and work together and it’ll be a great season.”
Brett Keller was 62nd in 21:24, while Conner Keller was 79th in 22:36.
In the girls’ race Rachel Rhoads placed 51st in 25:07, while Grace Simpson was 73rd in 27:32.
Elijah McCartney paced North Montgomery on his home course with a ninth-place finish in 18:03. Kylin White placed 97th in 27:24.
On the girls’ side, Claire Bonwell was 65th in 26:39, Lydia LaChance 68th in 27:16, and Hannah Littell 80th in 31:25.
“I feel like we did a good job,” North Montgomery coach Catherine Michie said. “Eli really put his heart out there. We still have some conditioning to do.”
In the boys’ race, Fountain Central placed sixth with 148 points, led by Carson Pietrzak’s eighth-place finish in 17:52.
Daniel Adams was 35th in 19:53, Hayden Kler 37th in 19:58, and Justin Butts 42nd in 20:13. Nathan Solomon placed 49th in a time of 20:35, Ethan Mellady 71st in 22:02, and Matt York 96th in 27:23.
On the girls’ side, Kenna Bible was 32nd with a time of 23:11, and Tyler Bowling 41st in 24:28. Courtney Sims was 60th in 25:41.
Charger athletics pioneers Chuck Kriston and Emerson Mutterspaugh originally started the Charger Classic with two races of 11 boys’ teams each. They later added a girls’ race and junior varsity race, and Stuffle is pleased to see the competitive classic continue today.
“They just keep coming back, and one of the reasons I think is because most of the schools are all about the same size,” he said. “and the talent levels are pretty equal.”