Norris leads W-M at Van-Far Invite

Eight Tigers earn medals

By Theo Tate
Posted 9/16/21

After 10 months, Layne Norris is still in shock from his performance at the 2020 Class 1 boys state cross country meet in Columbia.

Norris turned in the best state meet finish in …

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Norris leads W-M at Van-Far Invite

Eight Tigers earn medals

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After 10 months, Layne Norris is still in shock from his performance at the 2020 Class 1 boys state cross country meet in Columbia.

Norris turned in the best state meet finish in Wellsville-Middletown cross country history, placing 38th out of 175 runners with a career-best time of 18 minutes, 29 seconds.

“I went from one of our last runners to our first runner and fastest runner ever,” Norris said. “I can’t even imagine it. I can’t believe it.”

The strong effort from the Nov. 7 state meet gave Norris a big boost of confidence for the 2021 season. He’s leading a team that has six returning runners from last year.

“This is just the beginning,” Norris said. “We have a lot more in us and that will show within the next 6-7 weeks. We’ll get there.”

Norris’ senior season got off to a good start on Sept. 7. He earned a medal after placing seventh with a time of 20:21 in the boys race at the season-opening Van-Far Invitational. He also helped the Tigers finish second in the team standings with 52 points and earn a plaque.

“It wasn’t the best meet, but it definitely gave me a little more character and more motivation,” Norris said. “But I was more nervous because I didn’t know what I was capable of yet. I have a lot of expectations. I’m very hard on myself.”

Norris was one of eight W-M runners who earned medals at the Van-Far meet. Seniors Issac Seabaugh (8th, 20:27) and Keaton Mayes (10th, 20:36), freshman Hunter Bickell (13th, 21:03) and junior Kaleb Peak (14th, 21:08) were the Tigers’ other medalists in the boys’ race. Sophomores Jenelle Boeckelman (7th, 26:31) and Bethany Slovensky (14th, 28:18) and junior Natalie Boeckelman (15th, 28:54) earned medals in the girls’ race.

Jenelle Boeckelman said she was thrilled to have all three girls on the team pick up medals in the first meet of the season.

“That’s very nice,” said Boeckelman, who also competed at state last year. “I’m very proud of our team for how we performed today. We have a lot of fun. For the most part, it’s like a family. We all talk and goof around.”

Norris has high hopes for his boys team, which finished in the top four in several meets and had a pair of state qualifiers in 2020.

“By the morning of districts, we’re going to be ready and we’re going to qualify for state again for the first time in three or four years,” Norris said. “We’re going to get back and we’re going to do pretty well. I think we could be at least in the top half of the eight teams. But we have work to do and these boys work hard. There’s no doubt they could get it done.”

Last year, Norris came up 13 places short of an all-state medal. He clinched a state berth by placing eighth in districts.

“At the beginning of the season, if someone told me that I was going to make it to state and place that well with the school record, I would have laughed,” Norris said.

Norris, one of five seniors on the W-M team, has improved tremendously from his freshman year, when he ran a 24:50 in his first meet, the Linn Invitational.

“I’ve come a long way,” Norris said. “I remember I couldn’t run a mile in under six minutes. Now I can run three of them in under six minutes consecutively. It’s been crazy.”

During track season, Norris earned an all-state medal by helping the 3,200-meter relay team – which also included Seabaugh and Mayes – finish eighth. Also, he won the overall title at the Montgomery County Fair 5K on July 24.

Norris said he was glad to come back for another year with the cross country team this fall.

“I was ready,” the senior said. “That summer felt so long. I was ready to compete again.”

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