Boys cross country: Strategy pays off for Ryan Kritzer, Munster at regional
By John O’Malley Star correspondent October 22, 2013 1:14PM
Munster's Ryan Kritzer (second from left) runs at the head of the pack during the Crown Point boys and girls cross country regional at Lemon Lake County Park on Saturday October 18, 2013. Kritzer finished in first place. | Charles Mitchell/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 22, 2013 1:15PM
CROWN POINT — Munster’s Ryan Kritzer knew exactly what he needed to do if he wanted to win the Crown Point Regional.
It all came down to whether his strategy against runners the caliber of Crown Point’s Tyler Gray and Lowell’s Brian Blaylock would work.
“It feels great to win, because it was really a tough race,” the senior said. “Blaylock and Gray were pushing me the whole way.”
The Mustangs standout finished in 16:06, holding off Gray (16:14) and Blaylock (16:21) to earn medalist honors and lead Munster to the team title — its first since 2010 — at Lemon Lake Park on Saturday.
“Coming down the hill, after about the two-mile mark, I felt I needed to sprint, so I sprinted, opened up a gap, then tried to hold it going back up the hill,” Kritzer said. “I basically sprinted to kick back into my pace, then sprinted down the second hill and finished it off. I knew I needed two good kicks to win.”
With Kritzer’s first-place finish, teammate Tom Bolanowski’s fourth-place effort and Scott Farley’s No. 9 showing, the Mustangs edged defending champion Crown Point (49-52) for the team title, while Lake Central (72) was third.
“I thought the whole time that for us to even compete with Crown Point and have a chance to win, myself and Tommy would have to finish among the top five and everyone else would still have to do well. I think we really did well as a team today. I think everyone did what they needed to do. We’re all feeling great right now.”
Munster coach Aaron Brown was proud of his Mustangs, who placed five runners in the top 20.
“I’m happy with the way we ran,” he said. “We did a lot better than we did (at Tuesday’s Hammond Sectional), but we need to have our best race of the year next week at semistate. This week’s times — if you plug them in — might not be good enough to get out at semistate and make it to state next week, and we want to make it to state.
“Overall, though, we came back after not running very well at sectionals and ran much better today. We just want to make sure we carry it over to next week.”
According to Brown, Kritzer — 10th at last year’s regional — became the first Munster runner to ever win a regional championship, at least in the 5K era.
“He should be happy with what he did today,” Brown said. “He did run well. He’s the kind of runner that has to gradually pull away.”
Gray, meanwhile, who placed second to Blaylock at Tuesday’s CP Sectional, placed second to Kritzer on Saturday.
“I was looking to win today, but I knew he was a strong runner and was putting up great times this year,” Gray said. “Overall, I’m happy with my race. I’m happy to at least beat Blaylock. He got me at sectional, and I kind of wanted to get a little bit of redemption for that, so it was nice.”
Gray said running the rugged Lemon Lake course for the second time in four days proved to be a difficult challenge for the Bulldogs.
“With only three days of recovery between races, I think this course took its toll on us,” he said. “It was Munster’s first time running it this week. I’m not making excuses, but that makes a difference.”