On the day his 38-year-old school record was broken, Ron Braun responded without a thought of the sweet irony in his statement.
“It was a great day to be Bear,” said Braun, in his 19th season as coach of the Monroe Central cross country team. “It was a great day to be a part of the Monroe Central family.”
Braun had just witnessed his Golden Bears put on a dominating display to win the Marion Invitational Gold Division with just 38 points. They had six runners place in the top 14 on the course at Indiana Wesleyan.
The win stamped Monroe Central – the defending Delta Sectional champions – as one of the top teams in East Central Indiana and perhaps a team that could make some noise in the state tournament.
But this day was extra special, in fact historic, because of a junior who once considered baseball to be his primary sport. Much to the delight of all of his teammates and the many coaches and followers of the cross county program, Tucker Burris broke a nearly four decade old record that a few years ago some might have considered unbreakable.
Burris jubilantly raised his arms as he entered the chute in a time of 16:27.3, knowing he had just broken the school record previously owned by none other than his coach, Ron Braun.
“I watched the clock from about 100 meters in and I knew I had a good chance to get it,” Burris said of his final strides. “It’s something I have worked hard for – it’s been one of my goals, and it’s been one of Coach Braun’s goals to help me get the record. It’s really a testament to not only how good of a runner he was, but how good of coach he is. There is no way I could have done it without him coaching me.
“Ninety eight percent of my success comes from Coach Braun and how he pushes me to become better.”
Burris, though, is quick to redirect the conversation to how satisfying it was for the team to win. “It’s really not an individual thing at all, because I wouldn’t be the runner I am without my teammates. We are like a family and we all root for each other and push each other every day in practice. It’s really great to go to practice every day with my best friends and to be able have the best coaching staff in the state – and I truly believe they are.
“We’re hungry. We want to get better and never be satisfied.”
Burris may be running in front right now, but there are a whole host of Bears who are not far behind. Junior Carter Miller advanced to the semi state last year and placed fifth overall at Marion. Not far back of Miller, but in the front of most of the other runners, were sophomore Caden Landis in 11th, senior Caden Shumaker in 12th, freshman Eli Chamberlain in 13th and junior Kyler Shumaker in 14th. The Bears had three other runners – Lane Anderson, Dorian Weesner and Nathan Daniels – finish in the top half of the field.
The Bears started the season by finishing second in a three-way meet with Winchester and a very strong team from Mt. Vernon. Last Saturday, they settled for second to the host Raiders in the Wapahani Invitational, then won a four-way meet with Hagerstown, Cowan and Union County.
“This was a big win for us because I think it boosted our confidence and let us know that we’re still a championship team,” Burris said.
The Bears have won 11 straight Randolph County titles and are also on a streak of being a regional qualifier. The lone senior on this year’s team is Caden Schumaker, who has been a standout for four years now. Braun calls this year’s team a “once in a lifetime group of kids.”
“These guys are best friends and we’re all like a family,” he said. “Like I said, even with Covid going on right now, it’s just a great time to be a Bear.”
Lady Bears third
Monroe Central’s girls’ team continues to have great success after placing third on Saturday in the Marion Invitational Elite Division.
The Lady Bears were led by sophomore Karly Puckett in ninth place overall with a time of 21:58. Freshman Katie Osborne placed 15th, freshman Addison Coe was 16th, freshman Gracie Baker 18th and sophomore Kelsie Gaddis was 60th. Also for the Bears, Morgan Freeman was 70th, Sophie Budreau 76th and Star Moon 82nd.
Gold Division – Boys’ Results
Monroe Central 38
Oak Hill 125
Muncie Burris 161
Eastern Hancock 207
Adams Central 227
Fort Wayne Bishop Luers 261
Clinton Prairie 288
Southern Wells 294
Monroe Central - 1st
1. Tucker Burris 16:27.3
5. Carter Miller 17:11.9
11. Caden Landis 17:53.4
12. Caden Shumaker 17:55.4
13. Eli Chamberlain 17:58.3
14. Kyler Shumaker 18:01.9
65. Lane Anderson 19:50.2
70. Dorian Weesner 20:05.0
75. Nathan Daniels 20:19.1
Girls’ Results – Elite Division
Adams Central 63
Monroe Central 90
Southern Wells 173
Monroe Central - 3rd
9. Karly Puckett 21:58.3
15. Katie Osborne 22:10.5
16. Addison Coe 22:14.6
18. Gracie Baker 22:40.8
60. Kelsie Gaddis 23:34.5
70. Morgan Ferguson 25:13.1