Cougar harriers place sixth at state
For most teams, a sixth-place finish out of 24 teams at the state cross country finals would be something to be proud of. For the North Harrison boys, however, the expectations were great with at least a top-three finish or even a win in mind. That sixth-place finish Saturday kept the Cougars off the podium and left North Harrison with a day of disappointment at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute.
‘For us to come up here and perform great, it’s almost hit and miss sometimes,’ North Harrison coach Tim Martin said. ‘It’s pretty intimidating for the boys. We don’t run against these boys all year. It’s just really tough to come here and perform well. You could see a lot of the teams were going to do well. We thought we were going to get top three, and we ended up sixth. It hurts a little bit not to do exactly how you were going to do.’
‘This race is the toughest race all year at state,’ said junior Jonathan Reynolds, wiping away the tears of his disappointment. ‘We’ve had three, four years of it and haven’t been able to figure it out yet. Sixth place isn’t too bad. We have a lot to be thankful for. We’re real lucky we’ve been able to be where we’ve been the last three or four years. That’s why it’s cool. We’re thankful for the opportunities we’ve had, but we wish we would have done a little bit more.’
The boys’ race began with North Central’s Futsum Zeinasellassie running away from the field early. Less than a half-mile into the race, the North Central senior had a 50-meter lead over the field.
‘I knew he was going to do that,’ North Harrison’s Johnnie Guy said. ‘I figured he’d be going for the (course) record. Everybody just kind of let him go. I think that’s what everybody expected him to do. It didn’t really affect anybody at all because the race was really for second.’
Farther back, the Cougars were just behind the lead pack but keeping themselves in position to score well. Later, Guy made a move into second and hung on for nearly a mile in that position.
‘Around the 2K mark, I had this feeling they were going a little slower, so I just took it at second place for quite a while,’ he said. ‘I thought I was going to hold it, and they started coming by me. I was just giving it all I had, trying to keep off as many people as I could.’
‘Johnnie took second place and ran with it, so I know he gave 110 percent,’ Martin said. ‘He was second for us for about a mile. That’s a bold move to take that group. That group is a real good group this year. There’s just so many good guys at all about the same time.’
Zeinasellassie went on to set a course record of 14 minutes, 48.8 seconds to secure the win with Mitchell Hubner of LaPorte second at 15:32.9. It’s the third consecutive individual title for the North Central junior.
Guy made the podium with a 14th-place finish in a time of 15:52.4. Reynolds was 36th (16:12.4), and Ryan Foster ran third for the Cougars, finishing 53rd (16:26.2). Johnnie Guy’s brother, Josh, was 76th (16:37.6), and teammates Kyle Chesser was 93rd (16:50.4), Jason Head was 114th (17:01.7) and Daniel Fleace was 132nd (17:13.7).
‘It’s kind of disappointing a little bit,’ Johnnie Guy said. ‘We were going for the win. Two Columbus North guys got me down the stretch. I just couldn’t keep them off. I passed a few guys, but a few guys got me, too. It was tough.’
For Johnnie Guy, not even the individual podium placement was enough to make up for the team loss.
The Cougars will go back to Terre Haute this weekend for the Nike Invitational in hopes of redeeming themselves, but Guy said it won’t be the same.
‘Being on the podium as an individual is not bad, but the team is more important,’ the All-State performer said. ‘We came here to win, and we’re really disappointed. This is obviously way more important, the state championship. That’s what we all wanted.’
Reynolds said he would use the disappointment as motivation for next year.
‘We might not have gotten it right yet,’ Reynolds said, ‘but next year I’m going to use this as motivation to come back and get it right and come back on top.’
‘Performing needs to be our next step,’ Martin said. ‘We’re prepared. We’ll come up here next week against the same teams, and we could get third or second. Who knows what can happen.’
Columbus North was the top overall team with 77 points, followed by Hamilton Southeastern with 109 points. North Harrison finished with 192.
The Guy brothers, along with Chesser, Foster, Head and Cody Morgan are Cougars seniors.
It was the fourth year in a row the North Harrison boys’ team has reached the state meet finishing 19th, fifth, seventh and sixth, respectively. They’ve won two consecutive semi-state and three consecutive sectional and regional titles.
The girls’ race was a little more intense, as Columbus North’s Mackenzie Caldwell led for most of the first half then was challenged by Warsaw’s Ashley Erba, Carmel’s Sarah Bennett and West Lafayette’s Bobbie Burgess. North Harrison’s Ashton Bosler also was running well, in the top 50, as was Perry Central junior Cathryn Peter.
Erba made a push in the final kilometer to get the win in a time of 18:05.6. Bennett finished 14 seconds behind in second, and Burgess was third in 18:21.2. Caldwell was fourth at 18:26.2.
Bosler finished a respectable 46th in her first state finals in a time of 19:27.7. The freshman started on the outside, making it easier for her to transition in.
‘That helped me since there wasn’t as many people on one side of me,’ Bosler said. ‘It made me kind of feel more up there than what I might have even been. ‘ There’s just so many people here that maybe doesn’t make it seem as long as it really is. That didn’t really play with me, I don’t think.’
‘I was far enough back I just needed to keep picking off people,’ Bosler said. ‘I couldn’t let myself settle in. That would probably get me in some trouble. I needed to be up more.’
‘I learned a lot,’ she said. ‘It was quite an experience. Hopefully, I’ll be able to come back next year and do better.’
Peter, who was also running in her first state finals, fell behind toward the middle of the race but made a charge down the final 400-meter stretch to finish 80th out of the 192 runners.
‘She looked a little tired coming out of that loop over here (near midway) before she hit the finish,’ Perry Central assistant coach Ty Guillaume said, ‘but then she really poured it on. She really regained it back and did what she needed to do. She’s got that kick.’
Heritage Hills freshman Sienna Crews, who was second in the Crawford County Regional, was 26th (19:01.2). New Albany finished 24th in the event, with junior Phoebe Bauer finishing 66th (19:46.9).
Girls’ team scores ‘ 1. Carmel 43, 2. Columbus North 140, 3. Valparaiso 213, 4. Fort Wayne Concordia 223, 5. West Lafayette 239, 6. Hamilton Southeastern 242, 7. Carroll Fort Wayne 242, 8. Westfield 245, 9. Center Grove 250, 10. Terre Haute North 266, 11. Warsaw 282, 12. Penn 290, 13. Avon 307, 14. Northridge 337, 15. Eastern (Greentown) 351, 16. Crown Point 419, 17. Portage 436, 18. Lake Central 436, 19. Huntington North 451, 20. Bloomington South 458, 21. Evansville Memorial 474, 22. Heritage Hills 549, 23. Terre Haute South 588, 24. New Albany 612.
Girls’ individual results (top 15 all-state) ‘ 1. Ashley Erba (Wrsw) 18:05.6, 2. Sarah Bennett (Crml) 18:19.0, 3. Bobbie Burgess (WLaf) 18:21.8, 4. Mackenzie Caldwell (CN) 18:26.2, 5. Kelsey Welch (Crml) 18:30.9, 6. Rachel Nichwitz (HmlSstrn) 18:35.8, 7. Samantha Roush (ClmbCty) 18:35.8, 8. Kendra Foley (Nblsvl) 18:36.1, 9. Chanli Mundy (THN) 18:38.1, 10. Madison Woods (Penn) 18:39.3, 11. Anna Reibs (FWCn) 18:39.8, 12. Helen Willman (Nblvl) 18:44.3, 13. Gina Genco (Crml) 18:46.5, 14. Becca Conley (And) 18:47.2, 15. Abigail Hostetler (Frmt) 18:49.3.
North Harrison runner ‘ 46. Ashton Bosler 19:27.7.
Boys’ team scores ‘ 1. Columbus North 77, 2. Hamilton Southeastern 109, 3. Carmel 152, 4. Mishawaka 155, 5. Lawrence Central 179, 6. North Harrison 192, 7. Valparaiso 214, 8. South Bend St. Joseph 216, 9. Carroll Fort Wayne 243, 10. Zionsville 268, 11. Bloomington South 296, 12. North Central (Indianapolis) 303, 13. Bedford North Lawrence 356, 14. Fort Wayne Snider 377, 15. Warsaw 384, 16. Crown Point 430, 17. Whitko 469, 18. Chesterton 479, 19. LaPorte 492, 20. Evansville North 506, 21. Hobart 512, 22. Terre Haute South 528, 23. McCutcheon 562, 24. Seymour 575.
Boys’ individual results (top 15 all-state) ‘ 1. Futsum Zeinasellassie (NC) 14:48.8*, 2. Mitchell Hubner (LPrt) 15:32.9, 3. Troy Reeder (HmtnSE) 15:38.3, 4. Joey Zielinski (SBStJo) 15:39.0, 5. Michael Sublette (CN) 15:39.3, 6. Miguel Lozano (Mish) 15:39.8, 7. Sam Roudebush (Nblvl) 15:42.6, 8. Carl Smith (BS) 15:43.0, 9. Ari Coulopoulos (Valp) 15:45.0, 10. Alec Kostelnik (MorgTwnp) 15:45.1, 11. Tate Schlenbein (UC) 15:45.6, 12. Christopher Kelsey (CN) 15:46.9, 13. Andrew Diehn (CN) 15:49.8, 14. Johnnie Guy (NH) 15:52.4, 15. Jack Andritsch 15:53.8,
North Harrison runners ‘ 36. Jonathan Reynolds 16:12.4, 53. Ryan Foster 16:26.2, 76. Josh Guy 16:37.6, 93. Kyle Chesser 16:50.4, 114. Jason Head 17:01.7, 132. Daniel Fleace 17:13.7.