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Hayswood provides perfect backdrop for Corydon Invitational matchup

The Corydon Central Invitational was held at spacious Hayswood Nature Reserve for the first time last Thursday afternoon. The park, with its well-grown trees and glimmering pond, provided a marvelous and spectator-friendly backdrop for cross country. The girls course was mostly flat and looped back and forth parallel with Indian Creek while the boys trail did likewise with an added twist: a 1/4-mile trip each way up and down a hill.
Tell City’s Gina Sitzman was the first winner at the facility, taking the girls 4,000-meter race in 15:52, being virtually unchallenged the entire distance.
She was followed by teammate Kasey Linenbach, North Harrison’s Mariah Yates and Lady Marksmen A.J. Taylor and Angela Sprinkle. With four runners in the top five, Tell City easily cruised to the team title by 36 points over second-place Corydon Central. North was third, Crawford County was fifth and South took sixth.
On the boys side, Scott Robertson of North Harrison overcame a huge margin to South Central’s Lyndal Woosley early on to win by 26 seconds over South’s star. Robertson clocked in with a time of 18:19 to lead the Cougars to the Invitational title by just four points over Floyd Central, 35-39. The Rebels garnered third spot with 75 points, followed by Corydon’s 126. Crawford was fifth and Lanesville was seventh.
“We really have to thank the people at the parks department for letting us use this place,” Corydon coach Jerry Conrad said of the new facility. “I’ve heard several compliments on it. We’d love to keep running here if they’ll let us. In the past we wanted to run here, but they wouldn’t let us mow. Of course, you have to mow it, otherwise kids don’t know where to go and the footing is bad. If they disc it out and get some of the rough spots out to improve the footing, it’d be even better next year. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
In the girls chase, Sitzman packed up with her teammates and stayed well ahead of the field. Outside of a minor number of changes along the way, the race was over near the half-way point.
Rounding out the top 10 runners were Floyd Central’s Bekah Lee, Crawford County’s Meghan Kelly, Sunny Hipple and Sarah Esarey of Corydon Central and Desiree Brooks of North Harrison.
South’s Amanda Hornickle was 30th, Katie Roberts was 34th, Melissa Smith was 38th and Abby Knear was 39th.
Erin Rothrock of Lanesville, the lone Lady Eagle runner, was 35th in 19:40.
The Lady Cats were represented by Yates in third, Brooks in 10th, Morgan Carr in 20th, Gayla Schmelz in 22nd and Jennifer Hulsebus in 25th.
Julie Hoehn was 16th, Sarah Korte was 26th for the Lady Panthers and Jade Presnell was 28th overall.
“Some of the girls didn’t run a whole lot of miles this summer, so we are still trying to get them in shape,” Conrad said of his group, “but we’re starting to get there. I can see it getting pretty competitive in practice.”
Conrad added that the off-season training of Esarey and Kristina Fessel is starting to pay big dividends for his team.
“Sunny and Sarah were already up there and with Kristina putting in those miles, we’re definitely further along overall than I thought we’d be at this point. We just need to keep going in that direction,” he said.
Another runner who’d like to keep going in the same direction is North’s Robertson, who won his second race in his last three outings.
South Central’s Lyndal Woosley opened up a large lead in the early going of the 5,000-meter event, with the quintet of Robertson, Kyle Beckman, Ryan Byrne, Andrew Wolsiefer and Daniel Love following. Daniel Hart of Floyd Central was close on their heels, as was Corydon’s Sean Kravitz.
As the race headed for the monstrous hill, Robertson was able to close the distance and eventually pass Woosley at the bottom of the hill. By the time the two competitors returned to flat ground, Robertson held a seven-second lead.
In the end, Robertson stretched his advantage out to score the victory. Woosley was second, followed by Beckman, Byrne and a foursome of Floyd Central runners: Hart, Bryan Emerson, Matt Riley and Andrew Hamilton. Graceland’s Tristan Mannix was ninth and Lanesville’s Brandon Zoll turned in a strong time of 19:43 for 10th place. Kravitz came in fifteen seconds later for 11th place.
“(Kravitz) is coming back from an injury last year and is doing really well for us right now,” Conrad said. “He worked really hard over the summer and is doing really well for only running for one year. We lost nine guys from last year’s team and we’re pretty inexperienced, but the guys are learning. It’s just a rebuilding year for us, plain and simple.”
Corydon’s James Yeager was 23rd overall, Russel Braun was 29th and the threesome of Daniel Pack, Philip Barth and Zack Redden packed in 31st through 33rd place.
Lanesville’s Nick Kissel came in at 20:59, Simon McKim in 24:44 and Ryan Lind in 25:07.
South Central’s Jared Wilkerson came in 14th in 20:11, Mike Owen was 17th and Kevin Hanson was 20th overall. Teammate Derek Kaiser was 22nd and Paul Brown was 25th.