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Bulldogs the pride of the pack at elite North Harrison Invitational

New Albany swept the North Harrison Invitational cross country meet last week winning the girls and boys team divisions and also individually as Sara Belski and Wes Seacat took the top honors. The New Albany boys edged runner up Forest Park by just two points.
“I knew Seacat was probably going to win this meet but I had no idea New Albany was going to be this tough” said North Harrison coach Monty Schneider, whose boys team finished third. “That was a shock to me. People told me they were going to be decent but I had no idea they were going to be that strong.”
Another surprise came in the girls race as Brownstown standout, Winter Holman, finished fifth and had to be helped at the finish line.
When the girls race began Holman immediately took the lead with her usual quick pace, but at the mile did not have that commanding lead she has had in the past as New Albany’s Sara Belski and Missy Burgin trailed. New Albany was overpowering the field with five runners in the top ten.
Crawford’s Sara Rothrock was 14th at the mile and teammate Meghan Kelly was back three positions at 17th.
Belski and Burgin got around Holman with just under a mile to go, then Burgin later passed Belski for the lead and was up front with four hundred meters left. Down the stretch, however, Belski had the better kick and took the top spot in a time of 15 minutes, 51 seconds.
“With Winter I wanted to go out fast and keep up with her,” said Belski. “Missy passed her then I passed her up and we just kept a really strong pace. I knew at the end I’d have something because that’s my strongest point.”
Corydon’s Sarah Esarey finished 32nd. Esarey said she pushed herself after getting some encouragement from her family along the side.
“It was really rough. I’ve been sick,” said Esarey. “I was hurting really bad but I heard my dad (former Crawford coach Mike Esarey). He was doing his little, ‘Poosh!’ and I heard my grandpa so I said, ‘I’ve got to keep going.'”
“There were girls I should have been up with. I’ve got time for improvement. I didn’t run as much in the summer as I should’ve. I know that. Our whole team, we’re not in as good of shape as we should be but by the end of the season we’ll be up there.”
Corydon coach Jerry Conrad said his girls improved as the race went on.
“Our last mile today was our fastest,” Conrad said. “Our kids felt better on the last mile today. Our girls started moving up through the pack and that’s what I wanted. Sara was 39th with a mile to go and ends up 32nd. Colleen (Merk) was up in the forties and ended up 39th.”
“I was worried about my girls. We had two girls Tuesday that didn’t run and then came back today and were able to run. One was sick and the other one had a knee injury. Those girls will be okay at the end. They would like to be competitive now.”
North Harrison coach Monty Schneider was just glad to have a full girls team.
“My first three runners are running fine,” Schneider said. “The other girls aren’t real fast yet but it’s nice having a team. I think my first three runners appreciate having a team too.”
South Central freshman Sarah Pease finished eighth in her first varsity race and as the highest finishing female from Harrison County.
“I couldn’t have been happier with the way she ran,” South Central coach Greg Robinson said. “That was a big race she was in and she didn’t run like a freshman at all. I think she’ll do really well as the season goes on.”
New Albany’s Wes Seacat dominated the boys race from beginning to end. North Harrison’s Ryan Byrne and Scott Robertson battled neck and neck for nearly all the 5,000 meter run. Byrne had a better kick in the last mile to finish second while Robertson hung on to third. South Central’s Lyndal Woosley made the top fifteen at twelth and Crawford’s Brent Rothrock and Dustin Lindsay finished in the top twenty-five at 18th and 21st respectively.
“I knew (Seacat) was going to be up there,” Byrne said of his New Albany competition. “I knew he was going to be tough for this race.”
“Back on the big field over by the soccer field I tried to stay in front of (Robertson). I could hear him behind me the whole way with about three-fourths of a mile to go. I think I’m going to keep on improving. I think I did pretty good this race and I feel pretty confident about it.”
“Scott and Ryan are running real well and they’re both complimenting each other,” Schneider said of his top two runners. “Each of them want to be our number one runner. They boost the other one without knocking each other down. They’re really excited when the other one’s do well. It’s the first time he’s beaten Scott. Scott works so hard they’re going to be one and two and push back and forth all year.
North Harrison finished in the third position as a team with just six runners. Schneider hopes that will improve as his runners improve.
“I was actually pleased with our third place finish,” Schneider said. “Kyle Beckman ran a little bit better at third than he had been running. My other guys were back and I expected them to be back. They’re not in the best shape.”
The Corydon Panthers finished 14th as a team. Conrad said he wasn’t that displeased with his runners.
“It looked like we had some fresh legs and were bouncing a little bit,” Conrad said. “The first couple of weeks we had nice weather and I just don’t think we’ve handled the hot weather. Whether we ran too much and got them drained or we didn’t run enough and it got hot here I don’t know.”
“We were just hoping to get a couple of medals and we got a medal in every race so I’m happy. Our times are a lot better. It was a better day than it was the other day.”
Sean Kravitz led the way for Corydon in 30th place in 18:29. Filling out the top five were Russell Binus, James Yeager, Phillip Barth and Bryan Eads.
Robinson wasn’t too surprised his Rebels finished just a couple of points out of third place.
“I think we’ll have a pretty darn good team this season,” the coach said. “Lyndal (Woosley) ran a pretty strong race for us, but it was the other guys who came through and in a big meet like this or like at sectional, that’s what going to get you to the next level.”
Rounding out South Central’s finish were Jared Wilkerson (24th, 18:21), Brandon Eschbacher (34th, 18:37), Paul Brown (38th, 18:46) and Michael Owen (44th, 18:56).
Lanesville’s Mike Kissel paced his club with a respectible 33rd place finish in 18:35. He was followed by teammates Eric Hess, Evan Bridges, Ryan Lind and Brandon Zoll.
South Central’s junior varsity boys team took the top spot in the open race for the first time ever.
Brent Wilkerson (4th), Ricky Minton (5th), Chad McRae (18th), Dustin Lewis (21st) and Stephen Cook (22nd) were the top five runners for the Rebels.
On the girls side, Corydon Central won with a total of 82 points.
Danielle Engleman was 7th in 20:10 to lead the team with Jade Presnell (10th), Brooke South (19th), Betsy Craig (22nd) and Brooke Timberlake (24th) following close behind.
Some information for this story gathered by Alan Stewart, The Corydon Democrat.

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