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Cougars dominate Paoli Invitational

Cougars dominate Paoli Invitational
Cougars dominate Paoli Invitational
Runners take off at the start of the girls' varsity race at the Paoli Invitational. (Photo by Wade Bell)

The North Harrison Cougars dominated the Paoli Invitational cross country meet Thursday afternoon with a 56-point win over Northeast Dubois. Northeast Dubois’ Lady Jeeps, however, won the girls’ division with Paoli’s Audrey Thill becoming the first Paoli runner to win the school’s own invitational.
‘We’re pretty good, but we’re really not full strength,’ North Harrison coach Jerry Love said. ‘We’ve been nursing some injuries. A couple of the guys had to sit out a couple of races and a few practices and do some cross training. I was thrilled tonight to see them run as strong as they looked, considering we were still nursing a couple of injuries in the top five … I think that competitiveness comes out in a race.’
In the girls’ 5K run, South Central’s Rachel Pease went out front early and led for most of the race followed by Trinity Lutheran’s Taylor Royalty. During the last trip up Paoli’s cemetery hill, Royalty passed Pease for the lead, followed by Thill. When the runners came out, Thill was well out in front. Thill ran ahead to win in 21:12. Royalty finished second in 21:27, and Pease was third at 21:34.
Thill wore a big smile when she learned she was the first Paoli runner to win the event.
‘That’s pretty cool,’ she said.
The Lady Pack of Crawford County finished second, 51 points behind winner Northeast Dubois. Paoli was third, and North Harrison was fourth. Love said he has high hopes for his girls in the postseason.
‘The girls are doing real good,’ he said. ‘Kaci Cox was just a great boost for us today. She finished first for our team and sixth overall. She’s just helped our team. She’s got the senior leadership and the work ethic. She does anything we ask her to do. The girls came in fourth today and they’re looking good. We’ve got a really good shot for the post season with the girls. We haven’t been out of the sectional for several years. I really think the girls are going to get out this year with the way they’re looking.’
North Harrison’s Tyler Byrne took the lead from the beginning and never let go, finishing in a time of 16:36. Northeast Dubois’ Josh Geret was nearly a full minute behind in second place, and Borden’s Hunter Williams was third.
‘The whole race felt slower than it should have,’ Byrne said. ‘It felt like my legs were there, but this is a hilly course, so that probably took a lot from it. I think that’s a lot of it because these are hills we haven’t run yet. It’s a tough course.’
Byrne said he paced himself through the wooded section of the course.
‘At the start of it, I kind of it took it easy,’ he said. ‘It’s pretty rough in there. There’s some roots and divots and real windy stuff. I kind of just cruise through the first part, and I knew where it was better.’
The North Harrison junior said there’s still room for improvement in his running.
‘I’m hoping to keep improving once we start lowering our mileage and train a little bit there at the end and that my times will drop,’ he said. ‘We’ve done some speed work and some longer speed, like mile repeats. By the end of the season, we’ll get it down and be where I want to.’
Love said if his team can stay healthy, it can do a lot once the final big races come along.
‘If we can keep these injuries to a minimum and they don’t hamper us, we’ve got pretty positive post-season looks,’ he said. ‘We haven’t really reached our potential yet. We’ve got a young team that is getting better all the time. We’ve had several PR’s (personal records). This is not a course you PR on, but we came close to our PR’s, even though it was a difficult course.’
‘They’re hungry,’ Love said. ‘They want it. They’re young and they’re friendly competition on the team. We’ve got two or three people that’s been rotating back and forth that’s pushing everybody. Nobody is dogging anything … I’m happy with where it’s going. We’ve got a good group of kids, a good work ethic.’
Corydon Central’s Harrison Mann (18:06) had to settle for fourth after losing ground in the wooded part of the course. Lanesville’s Joe Kissel was fifth in 18:15.

Girls’ team scores ‘ NE Dubois 61, Crawford County 112, Paoli 116, North Harrison 141, Mitchell 186, Salem 189, South Central 192, Corydon 196, Scottsburg 285, Crothersville 306
Girls’ individual results ‘ 1. Audrey Thill (Pa) 21:12, 2. Taylor Royalty (TrinLuth) 21:27, 3. Rachel Pease (SCent) 21:34, 4. Rachel Koeplin 21:46, 5. Katie Spellman (Hnryvl) 22:42, 6. Kaci Cox (NH) 22:46, 7. Ashley Malloy (Sa) 22:53, 8. Katie Sands (NED) 23:00, 9. Andria Mehringer (NH) 23:16, Celeste Hochsange (NED)

Boys’ team scores ‘ North Harrison 61, NE Dubois 117, Salem 134, Mitchell 152, Corydon 175, Perry Central 197, Paoli 210, South Central 221, Orleans 256, Eastern 284, Lanesville 323, Crawford County 331, Crothersville 340, Trinity Lutheran 406, Henryville 409, Loogootee 451, West Washington 486, Springs Valley 494
Boys’ individual results ‘ 1. Tyler Byrne (NH) 16:36, 2. Josh Geret (NED) 17:34, 3. Hunter Williams (Bor) 17:54, 4. Harrison Mann (Co) 18:06, 5. Joe Kissel (Lnsvl) 18:15, 6. Michael Baird (Sa) 18:17, 7. Travis Crawford (Sa) 18:18, 8. Gibson Hochgesang (NED) 18:24, 9. Ben Warren (Pa) 18:25, 10. Kris Sandline (Sctbg) 18:25