LAGRANGE – Even without what was known as Tiger Mountain, the cross-country course at Troup High proved challenging enough.
A year ago when Troup hosted races, the course included a couple of trips up Tiger Mountain, which is actually a sizeable hill on the school’s campus.
This year, Tiger Mountain wasn’t a part of the course, but there was still some hill running involved to go along with a bunch of twists and turns, and it was also a warm day with summer-like temperatures, so the runners from the different schools were tested.
In addition to the host team, Lafayette Christian School, Harris County and Heard County also competed in the meet that was held Thursday afternoon.
In the boys’ race, it was Lafayette Christian School’s Michael Loutzenheiser coming away with the victory with a time of 19 minutes, seven seconds, and it was Taylor Elkins of Harris County taking the top spot in the girls’ race with a time of 24:32.
Troup’s Lila Phurrough (25:10) finished third and was the top local finisher in the girls’ race.
In the boys’ race, Loutzenheiser pulled away late in the race and ended up winning by more than 20 seconds.
A pair of Harris County runners, John Phillips (19:33) and Jacob Bowden (19:46) were next, and Troup’s Drew Duram (19:50) was fourth.
Harris County’s John Lee (20:56) rounded out the top five.
Other local runners who were in the top 10 were Troup’s Ryan Fuller (21:21), who finished seventh, Lafayette Christian’s Serik Rosencrants (21:33), who was eighth, and Troup’s Kole Murphy (21:56), who placed 10th.
Lafayette Christian coach Jen Loutzenheiser said her inexperienced boys’ team is making a lot of strides.
“Most of the other guys (besides Loutzenheiser) are brand-new runners,” she said. “They’re getting the hang of it real quick. They’ve got to really want it, and really work at it, and they are.”
Duram said it was a lot of fun to compete in a meet on his home course at Troup.
“We were real excited all throughout the day,” Duram said. “Everybody was cheering us on for today. It’s homefield advantage so we know where the hills are and everything. We’ve got another one next Thursday, and we’re looking to come out and be even faster than we were today.”
Duram said he was “pretty happy” with his performance, although he thought he might have had a slightly faster time on the new-look course.
“I was hoping to at least get under 19:30,” Duram said. “Me and my dad changed the course this year, and we took out Tiger Mountain. Running up that twice was tough.”
Fuller said he didn’t have any expectations as far as a finishing time since it was his first time on the course.
“Because this is a new course, I didn’t really having anything to base a time on,” Fuller said. “I was just going to see what I could do.”
In the girls’ race, Heard County’s Holly Moreland (24:50) finished second behind Elkins, and Phurrough was close behind in third.
Troup’s Evelyn Johnson (25:58) came through with a fourth-place finish, and Heard County’s Lily Langley (26:22) finished fifth.
Runners from Harris County occupied the final five spots in the top 10.
Katie Belle Oliver (33:23), 12th
Sydney Broderick (34:34), 15th
Rory Kloster (36:32), 18th
Symphony McCord (37:39), 19th
Lila Phurrough (25:10), third
Evelyn Johnson (25:58), fourth
Abby Barintine (34:00), 13th
Maya Worle (34:33), 14th
Lauren Turner (34:43), 16th
Michael Loutzenheiser (19:07), first
Serik Rosencrants (21:33), eighth
Alex Kliesch (22:52), 17th
Jacob Rocker (23:19), 20th
Drew Duram (19:50), fourth
Ryan Fuller (21:21), seventh
Kole Murphy (21:56), 10th
Tyler Meadows (22:16), 11th
Aaron Rensenhouse (22:27), 12th
Kyle Cason (22:41), 16th
Carson Cagle (23:36), 22nd
Chuck Massie (23:41), 23rd
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports