Boys cross country: Ryan Kritzer, Mustangs dominate NCC meet
BY JOHN O’MALLEY Star correspondent October 8, 2013 12:28PM
Lowell's Brian Blaylock placed second in the boys' division of the Northwest Crossroads Conference cross country meet held Saturday, October 5, 2013, at Maple Lake in Hobart. | Michael Gard/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 9, 2013 11:54AM
HOBART — Munster’s Ryan Kritzer and Lowell’s Brian Blaylock are friends off the course, but they’re enemies on the trails, competing against each other.
“I definitely wanted to beat him today,’’ Kritzer said. “He and I have gone back and forth this year. My goals were to get the individual conference title and help us get the team title. I wanted to do everything I could to help the team out.’’
Saturday’s Northwest Crossroads Conference meet at Maple Lake, saw the Mustangs standout take medalist honors (16:02) and beat Blaylock (16:13) for only the second time this season.
Kritzer previously defeated the Red Devils standout at the Crown Point Invite.
“I think I should have gone out a little faster and tried to stay with him,’’ Blaylock said. “I was pretty close to him at one point, but he got me at around two miles and started opening it up a little more.’’
Considering he finished sixth a year ago in the NCC meet, it was quite an improvement for Blaylock.
“I wish I could have won it, but I can’t really be too disappointed with second in conference,’’ he said.
Kritzer was relieved he was able to hold off his friend.
“I knew at the end of the race, he’d pick it up a lot,’’ Kritzer said. “I really wanted to surge at the two-mile mark and keep it going. I knew he’d be coming. I knew he’d be right there. I just never felt comfortable that whole race. It wasn’t my best time, but it was definitely one of my best races.’’
Munster’s Tom Bolanowski (16:19) was third, while Hobart’s Brent Dunn was fourth and Munster’s Emmanuel Lopez, fifth.
How strong were the Mustangs?
Coach Aaron Brown’s team placed three runners in the top five and six in the top 10 (1-3-5-6-7-8) to dominate the race.
Munster finished with 22 points to easily out-distance Lowell (57) and Hobart (58).
“We had a couple goals as a team coming in,’’ Brown said. “We wanted to win and we wanted to have the top individual, which is a challenge, because we hadn’t beaten Blaylock all year (since CP Invite). We talked about doing that and we wanted to have six in the top eight — so they went above and beyond. I’d call it a good bounce-back performance after a couple of off meets. I don’t think we ran particularly good times the last couple weeks at New Prairie and Culver (Invitationals).’’
Kritzer said times from those meets provided plenty of incentive for the Mustangs.
“It was definitely good motivation for us coming in here,’’ he said. “We knew what we could do and we needed to have a good race to take us back (on track).’’
Brown said the team’s ultimate goal is to return to the state meet — where the Mustangs haven’t been since 2010.
“We want to keep improving and getting better now that we’re in the postseason,’’ he said. “We can’t afford to have an off day. If we have an off day, we’re done. We really want to get back there as a team.’’