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Cougar holds his own at state

Cougar holds his own at state
Cougar holds his own at state
North Harrison's Scott Robertson finished 79th in his first state finals at Bloomington Saturday. (Photo by Wade Bell)

North Harrison junior Scott Robertson tried to keep his calm during his first state finals cross country meet on Saturday and finished a respectable 79th out of the field of 173 runners in the boys’ division of the Indiana High School State Championship.
For Robertson, there was a lot to think about before his 5K run. How hard do you start? How hard do you attack the first hill? There was the huge crowd (an estimated 5,000) watching you. The competition is the toughest in the state. All of this was something that could be quickly very overwhelming.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I first got up here,” Robertson said. “I knew there was going to be a lot of runners, but just running with all this competition, I had one of my best times.”
“Most of the runners that are running up here are used to running in the front of the pack,” coach Monty Schneider said. “They get here and maybe find themselves 75th or maybe have never run in a pack like this. It’s difficult because you get jostled some early and have to chop your stride. I thought he handled it very, very well.”
“Coming down the hill everyone was screaming,” Robertson said. “I tried to keep my calm because it was easy to get excited and speed up. Once you do that, you burn out with about a mile to go. I just tried to keep calm and run my race.”
Both Schneider and teammate Ryan Byrne, who ran in last year’s finals, both gave Robertson advice on how to handle this much larger event.
“(Ryan) told me to just try to run your race,” Robertson said. “A lot of people go in the first mile too fast and end up just dying.”
Both Robertson and New Albany’s Wes Seacat got a good start at the gun. Robertson said he had an advantage with two runners in his starting box, Christopher Kempf of Ft. Wayne Carroll and Josh Wolfe of DeKalb, who both finished in the top 15.
At three kilometers, Seacat was still hanging in the top 15. Robertson was having to fight for position in a jumble of runners and try to move up.
“It’s a little bit hillier than Terre Haute,” Robertson said. “I’m used to hills but I don’t think I’m used to running them this quick. It was just a whole different race.”
At the finish, Lawrence North’s Neftalem Araia was all alone to defend his championship of last year while Columbus North’s Christian Wagner, a junior, finished second, 11 seconds behind. Araia’s winning time was close to breaking 15 minutes, running at 15 minutes, 8 seconds at the end.
New Albany Wes Seacat finished up at the 15th position in a time of 16 minutes, 10.8 seconds, just four seconds over his second place finish at Terre Haute. Robertson’s 79th place finishing time was only seven seconds slower than his semi-state time, considered by Schneider his best race. Borden’s Ricky Book, 10th at Terre Haute in 16:47, was 93rd in a time of 17 minutes, 2 seconds.
“I was just thinking to myself every second counts,” Robertson said of his thoughts near the end. “I was probably ten to twenty seconds behind and there was at least 30 guys right through there. It was, ‘You’ve got to keep pushing, got to keep pushing.’ I just went all the way to the end.”
“I thought Scott ran a smart race,” Schneider said. “It’s easy to come up here and blow up at the start. Looking where he finished last week, which was probably the best race he’d ever run in his life, and where he could realistically finish, I think we both felt the best he could possibly get was 16:40. That last year was 50th place. When you’re up here, 20 seconds is a bunch of runners. He did break 17 (minutes).”
“Could he have run 15 or 20 seconds faster? Maybe, but I’m sure he ran as fast as he could today or he would have run faster. He didn’t blow up. I’ve seen a lot of runners come up here and go out too fast and have a chance to get in the top 50 and finish 125th. He just ran a good, smart race.”
Columbus North took the boys’ team with 82 points with Carmel placing second at 124 points. Spencer County’s Heritage Hills finished 16th with 394 points.
Both Robertson and Schneider hope next year they will be able to bring seven runners with them instead of just one. Robertson and Byrne, already having the state meet experience, could be a plus for the Cougars next year.
“I hope we can bring a team with him,” Schneider said. “Most of the team came up here and looked at the course and jogged the course. If we get a little help out of our eighth graders and some of our other guys step up, we’ve got a chance to get here next year. We knew we’re going to have two runners at the front of the pack next year. If we can find three guys that can run hard, hopefully we can get here.”
“I can come more wiser in how I run,” Robertson said. “Maybe train on hills more. We do that here, but next year I’ll be more experienced and have more miles in. I’ll just work harder.
“If we have our fourth and fifth runners step up and keep Ryan healthy we could have a good shot of making it here, again.”