There were lots of hugs and handshakes when the 14th ranked Wabash cross country team walked around the track prior to the Charlie Finch Memorial Alumni Challenge. Alumni from across the country returned to the College to meet the Little Giant harriers and have a friendly four-mile competition.
Alumnus Adam White ’98 came back to compete, but more to enjoy some time with his stepson, Wabash junior Jordan Hoerr. White and his wife own a running shoe store in Peoria, Illinois.
Mike Vega, known as the fiercest finisher in cross country history, escaped the hurricane on the east coast to return to his alma mater. Vega came out from Washington, D.C., where he works for the FBI.
And Jeff Lampert ’92, as he does every year, brought the whole family to revisit Wabash, catch up with old friends and coaches, and put in four miles before 11 a.m.
But the Finch Memorial is a competition, and senior three-time All-American Kevin McCarthy looked to be in mid-season form as he ran away from his teammates — and the alumni — to win the race.
Coach Roger Busch's nationally ranked Little Giants appear to be deeper than his previous squads. Busch hopes to build on last year's 13th place finish at the NCAA Division III National Championships. And in spite of the loss of All-American Seth Einterz, the coaches have picked Wabash 14th in the pre-season national poll.
Busch is excited about his 14-man freshman roster with good reason. Rookie Billy McManus of Fort Wayne Bishop Luers High School ran confidently with Wabash's number two runner, senior Donavan White, throughout the race. But McManus got the best of White to finish second overall.
Another senior, Brian David, ran alongside rookie Shane Hoerbert throughout the race. It was good strategy for both — David finished fourth and Hoerbert fifth. Sophomore Jake Ponton ran strong throughout to finish sixth, while sophomore Dalton Boyer was seventh, freshman Nick Boyce was eighth, senior Kenny Farris was ninth, and sophomore Corey McFarland rounded out the top ten.
Adam White, who ran with Coach Busch back in the 90s, was the top finisher for the alumni.
The Little Giants open the regular season next weekend when they host the 50th Annual Wabash Hokum Karem. The Hokum Karem will feature seven teams, and is a relay-style race. Teams of two runners will alternate one-mile loops through the Fuller Arboretum in the six-mile race. Wabash won the event a year ago.