FORT WAYNE — She’s a senior. Her shadow or doppelganger or whatever you want to call her is a freshman.
Know this, though: Olivia Hippensteel likes having Madison Fruchey around.
“She’s just an awesome runner,” Hippensteel said. “It’s amazing she’s just a freshman. … She’s always there to back me up.”
And in a sport, cross country, where togetherness counts, that’s a good thing. Hippensteel and Fruchey again hung out together Saturday, finishing 1-2 to lead Carroll to the NHC girls title in the combined NHC/SAC conference meets at the Plex.
The Chargers won with 34 points, easily outdistancing second-place Homestead (70) by placing five runners in the top 12. That gave Carroll a sweep of the NHC titles; Jon Harper led a 1-2-3-4-8-9 finish for the Chargers in the boys race, which Carroll won with 18 points.
In the SAC, Bishop Dwenger won the boys side with 41 points, placing four runners (Luke Miller, Greg Tippmann, Jack Obergfell and Mark Berghoff) in the top ten as Concordia’s Zach Panning ran away with the individual title in 15 minutes, 26 seconds – 50 seconds ahead of second-place Asher Scott of Snider. Snider won the girls title with 32 points, overcoming a 1-2 finish by Concordia’s Marina Konow and Michaela Harrison, with Brittany Fensler (3rd), Sarah Koester (5th), Breanna Fensler (6th) and Beth Doehrman (7th).
So, once again, togetherness ruled.
“You know, our No. 1 had an off day,” Dwenger coach Eric Ade said. “But that happens. That’s why you have seven guys, and that’s why you have seven good guys.
“The guys that did run ran about what we expected – a couple of (personal records) and a couple of guys ran their normal race. I told the guys that’s what we came here to do. Not everybody has to run a PR.”
Carroll coach Zach Raber agreed.
“We talk about running in groups a lot,” he said. “The boys did really well with that today. Our No. 4 and No. 6 didn’t run, but the other kids were lights out.”
And the girls?
“We didn’t really run well other than those first two,” he said. “Our pack was way far back. But with (Hippensteel and Fruchey), in a race like this where there’s not as many kids in the front group, they can really work off each other.”
They’ve been working off each other, and swapping wins, all season. This time around, it was Hippensteel who cut the cord with a late sprint to come home first.
“That’s my favorite part of the race is the sprinting part,” said Hippensteel, who runs the 800 for Carroll during track season. “I just pretend I’m a sprinter.”
Not that she isn’t appreciative of the company.
“It’s nice having (Fruchey) there,” she said. “When I feel good, we’re together. And when I feel bad, she picks me up.”