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Highlanders sweep Madison Regional

“We just needed to pass one man.”
That’s what North Harrison boys cross country coach Monty Schneider said after his team had to settle for second place to Floyd Central by a sixth man decision at the Hanover Cross Country Regional Saturday. Floyd Central took team victories in both the boys and girls events.
The closeness of the scoring in the boys event was not a surprise but there were surprises in the finishes of both races.
The girls race started with 68 runners and as expected Floyd Central’s Megan Rainville quickly took control. At the mile marker Rainville had company from New Albany’s Sarah Bielski. Corydon’s Sunny Hipple was 10th and Crawford County’s Meghan Kelly dropped into 13th. North Harrison’s Mariah Yates was also in the front group at 15th.
At the halfway point Rainville began to pull away from Bielski with the rest of the field more than 100 meters behind. Kelly was still in the top 15 about eight steps behind Hipple while Yates had fallen well back.
Then came the finish. With about 40 meters to go Rainville was still in the lead by about 20 meters but began to struggle. Bielski saw the opportunity and suddenly surged forward. Rainville could only watch as Bielski made the pass and took the individual championship.
Sunny Hipple said the strong wind did have some affect on her run but the course turned into more than she expected.
“When we came here I ran about the first mile and I said, ‘OK, this is cool.” Hipple said. “‘There’s not many hills. It’s fine.’ Then when I get over there (on the backside), there’s more hills. We went out at a pretty fast pace and I was just trying to hold on the last mile. I had to struggle.”
“Today she put it together,” said Corydon coach Jerry Conrad of Hipple. “I told her (before the race) she was probably 13th to 15th and she finishes 11th and not that far out of the top 10. Sunny looked better today than she did Tuesday. Today she looked like she was enjoying herself.”
Conrad said Hipple has one big advantage going for her at the semi-state.
“She’s blessed with speed and at Terre Haute you’ve got to have speed,” Conrad said. “Getting through the first mile is really tough. Other kids really have to work the first mile because they don’t have speed. She just has to be within distance. She’s got a legitimate shot.”
Corydon’s team didn’t fair so well finishing two spots out of a semi-state berth at seventh. Part of that came from an ankle injury suffered by Colleen Merk early in the race.
“In the first 800 meters she was going around a curve with some other girls and got shoved and twisted her ankle,” said Conrad. “We think it’s a bad sprain. We had the kids right where we thought they would be. We just weren’t expecting to take the big number at the end.
“This is the first girls team that has had over 90 victories. Sunny is one senior we lose and we lose our No. 7 girl, Sarah Korte. But we’ve got a good little freshman and have a couple of good eighth graders coming up. We’re hoping for good things next year.”
Floyd Central easily won the team championship with a 39-point margin over runner-up New Albany. Buchanan said she was happy but some of the girls felt they didn’t do as well as they could have.
In the boys race it just wasn’t the top five runners of each team that counted. It was everyone.
New Albany’s Wes Seacat took the lead followed up by Zachary Book of Providence. The big surprise was North Harrison’s Ryan Byrne, who was fourth at the mile and steadily moving up. The Cougars had four runners in the top 25 at that point and looked in good shape for a team title.
By halfway Byrne had moved up to run stride for stride with Seacat and Book. In the last part of the race, however, Seacat and Book pulled away from Byrne. Seacat took the win and Book finished second with Byrne in third.
From that point, however, the team title got closer and closer. In the end it came down to a tie of 93 points for both the Cougars and Floyd Central. The decision came to the sixth man where Floyd’s Lee Townsend finished ahead of North Harrison’s Kyle Fisher.
“There’s five real good teams today plus there’s some individuals up here today,” said Schneider. “South Central had a team but the Woosley boy ran very well and Lanesville had one up there fairly well. Our boys ran well. Sometimes you just get nosed out.”
“I was feeling pretty good then I got up there (in the stretch) and they just left me,” said Byrne. “I got a pretty good start and I just kept on going. I thought maybe if I could catch them I could stay with them. I was surprised to be up there with them. When I got up there I thought I could pull away from them but it didn’t happen.”
“Ryan ran very, very well,” said Schneider. “For a while I thought he had a chance to win it. You never know when a freshman just takes off and does something and he did. We had a few guys that were back a little bit today but the main thing is to get out (to semi-state).”
Andrew Wolsiefer and Scott Robertson finished 14th and 15th, respectively, for the Cougars. Meanwhile, the Lady Cat runners suffered a disappointing ninth place finish.
“At least for our boys it’s not over with. We get to go ahead and maybe they’ll all have a career race and we’ll get to go to Bloomington. It will take a career race from all six or seven guys. It’s tough.”
South Central’s Lyndal Woosley finished sixth to gain a trip to Terre Haute and Lanesville’s Brandon Zoll took the 13th position. For Woosley it will be his second semi-state run and he plans to just take things in stride.
“The second time around is pretty nice,” Woosley said. “I’m going to try to do it every year if I can. I’ve already been there so I’ll know what to do. If I do OK then I do OK. but if I don’t it don’t really matter. I’m already there and that’s the main thing.”
“Lyndal really did well,” said South Central coach Greg Robinson. “The times were really slow today but he improved on his position. He put himself up there where he had to and made a nice move in the middle and fell right in the thick of it.”