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Corydon girls going to first semi-state

Corydon girls going to first semi-state
Corydon girls going to first semi-state
Corydon Central's Sarah Bailey edges New Albany's Olivia Hawkins at the finish of the girls' Crawford County regional race. The Lady Panthers qualified for their first cross country semi-state with a fifth-place finish as a team. Photo by Wade Bell

The Floyd Central girls’ cross country team continued its domination from last week’s sectional win to claim another regional title at Crawford County Saturday morning, scoring just 28 points in its 56-point win over runner-up Jasper.
Also in the girls’ division, the Corydon Central Lady Panthers qualified for their first semi-state run at Brown County this Saturday, finishing fifth of the 10 full teams competing. Forest Park and Christian Academy of Indiana also made the cut, finishing third and fourth, respectively.
The boys’ division saw the Marksmen of Tell City run away with the top prize to finish with just 46 points, while Christian Academy came up a distant second with 103 points. Jasper was third, while Floyd Central had a much better day than last week with a fourth-place finish. New Albany was the fifth qualifier for the trip to Brown County, edging out North Harrison.
Just like it was at the sectional, it was so again in the girls’ race as Floyd Central’s Kylie Sorg and Christian Academy’s McKenna Cavannaugh put on another show that went down to the finish. First, however, the runners had to break away from a tight starting pack going into the first turn of the Michael Esarey Cross Country Course. It wasn’t until about 300 yards into race that the field started stringing out and runners got their first real chance to jockey for position.
‘I kind of let the front people who had everybody boxed in take the lead because I figured they’d kind of wear themselves out a little bit more than I would get worn out,’ Sorg, a junior, said. ‘Then, once they started falling back, I just kind of went through them and around them and just stayed there the whole race. I know everybody gets really excited at the start, so I was like, ‘Everybody just go out. I’ll follow for a little bit.’ We’ve had a lot of practice with it.’
‘We were all bumping elbows, and I was scared I was going to trip over somebody,’ Crawford County’s Gabriella Gaines, who finished 37th, said.
The Lady Highlanders did suffer a casualty less than a mile into the race when junior Faith Barba took a hard spill on one of the course’s bridges, falling into a pile of rocks. Barba had to be transported to the Floyd Central camp, where she was evaluated for injuries. The fall happened right in front of teammate Lillian Pearce.
‘I almost stepped on her,’ said Pearce, who also immediately knew somebody would have to move up to Barba’s spot if the Lady Highlanders were to continue to keep their low score. ‘It kind of freaked me out because I didn’t want to step on her. I was with another teammate, Erica (Batliner), and I was, ‘OK, we need to pull ahead so we can keep up the points average.’ I think Erica did keep it up pretty well. So, we stayed together to keep up with her. … ‘
Not too far back, North Harrison’s Sadie Rothrock and Cassidy Thompson were fighting to keep in contention for one of the coveted semi-state spots. The Corydon Central Lady Panthers also were looking strong at the half-way point, with Sarah Bailey and Brianna Medcalf keeping themselves in the top 25, with Marcie Stewart and Anna Bailey in the top 40.
The real battle, however, was up front between Sorg and Cavannaugh with Sorg leading by four strides at the half-way point. When they got to the stretch, however, Cavannaugh had made up ground and the pair were side by side with 100 meters to go. Sorg pushed to a slight lead with 20 meters left. In the last 15, however, Cavannaugh surged and passed Sorg to win by two steps at the line. Cavannaugh won in a time of 19 minutes, 28.82 seconds with Sorg 0.76 of a second behind.
‘I was feeling pretty good,’ Sorg said. ‘I’ve just got to pick it up a little bit more halfway. She’s a strong competitor. I love racing with her. We’ve been racing since middle school together.’
Christian Academy’s Sydney Liddle was third, and Heritage Hills’ Caitlyn Lueken was fourth. Floyd Central’s Pearce moved up to fifth.
‘We’ve tried to focus on one team and one goal, and, again, it was one team and they took care of business,’ Floyd Central girls’ coach Carl Hook said. ‘They picked up the slack when we lost a runner throughout the race. That can happen occasionally in this sport or any sport. Obviously, you can’t send a sub in off the bench. The ones that are out there have to pick up the slack. They did that well.’
The Lady Highlanders had all six of their finishing runners in the top 15 with Erica Batliner seventh, Chloe Loftus eighth, Morgan Paul 10th and Jacqueline Owings 13th.
‘They’re picking up at the end of the season like they’re supposed to,’ Hook said. ‘They’re running really well right now. … They’re all working hard every week and all week long and taking care of business and running their hearts out on Saturday.’
For the Lady Panthers, it was a day of school history, qualifying for their first semi-state run as the team grabbed the fifth and final qualifying spot. Sarah Bailey was 21st at 21:32.38, with Brianna Medcalf 23rd at 21:39.28. Marcie Stewart 35th (22:30.52), Anna Bailey 36th (22:30.70), Elizabeth Blackburn 41st (22:54.77), Sara Bussabarger 50th (23:13.74) and Alexis Orme 81st (26:42.26).
‘Our team, we’re really excited,’ Sarah Bailey said. ‘This will be the first time Corydon has ever gone to semi-state, a girls’ team that has qualified as the girls together. So, we’re really excited. We’ve just worked hard in practice and keep being positive. Our coach pushes us. We try to run together in a race. We compete (against each other) a little bit. We don’t really say it too much, but I think it’s all in our minds.’
North Harrison’s Sadie Rothrock and Cassidy Thompson had their game faces on as they warmed up before the race. Both got out to the semi-state as individuals with Rothrock finishing 20th in 21:31.49 and Thompson 24th in 21:45.18.
‘We just trained really hard over fall break,’ Thompson said. ‘We didn’t keep it down. We just kept going. We just wished for the best.’
Thompson, who also plays golf for the Lady Cats, said this finish has given her more confidence going into Saturday’s semi-state.
‘I’m just going to train my best this coming week and run my best race,’ she said of the semi-state. ‘You don’t have the hills to work with to push up or push down. It’s supposed to be kind of a faster course. (My confidence) has kind of gone up a little bit. This is my first year (to run cross country). They’ve always tried to get me to come out, but I’ve just been doing golf, and I’m doing both.’
The start of the boys’ race was just as packed as the girls’ beginning with Christian Academy’s Skylar Stidam and Caleb Futter immediately taking the lead and Crawford County’s Christian Carlton trying to keep close like the week before.
This time, however, the Christian Academy runners were not up front the entire race. Heritage Hill’s Noah Hufnagel pushed to the front on the second lap. Carlton slipped back slightly, but Perry Central’s Marcus Graham fought to keep himself in contention getting past Carlton.
At the finish, Hufnagel had a big kick to win the race unchallenged in a time of 16:06, with Jasper’s Cale Kilian finishing second in 16:12. Stidam was third (16:13) and Futter fourth (16:17) for the Warriors. Tell City’s Leo Simpson rounded out the top five, finishing fifth in 16:29. Graham finished sixth (16:39) for the Commodores, with Carlton ninth (16:55) and Northeast Dubois’ Jeb Knies 10th.
‘I was expecting to get out at 16:20, but I just wasn’t feeling it today,’ Carlton said. ‘I got ninth, but, hopefully, at semi-state I can do better than that. I just wanted to stay with the top pack, but it just wasn’t a good day for us. A Tell City kid passed me, and I really didn’t want him passing me that much. I tried getting out there, but my legs wouldn’t go any faster.’
North Harrison put three runners into Saturday’s semi-state run, with Nathaniel Lone finishing 13th, Noah Rothrock 17th and Collier Smith 20th.
Floyd Central boys’ coach Tim Korte was not a happy camper after his team’s fifth-place finish last week. Korte and his runners made a trip to the Crawford County course on Monday to run a scrub race with the JV team. That’s when the Highlanders found they hadn’t lost their touch.
‘We showed up Monday and did our JV race, our scrub race that you used to be allowed to do,’ Korte, who wore a big smile this time around, said. ‘But somehow the IHSAA thinks that’s a horrible idea. So, we came and did it ourselves, and all four of those guys that did it ran personal records. I think that got everybody in a little better mindset to say, ‘Hey, we are this fit. Just because we raced (poorly), that doesn’t mean the fitness we’re at isn’t there, so let’s go in there and do something a little better.’ We also knew it was a do or die.’
Sam Owings was the team’s top finisher in 14th place (17:13.18) behind North Harrison’s Lone (17:12). David Heinemann was 28th (17:32), Billy Pierce 29th (17:40), Matt Dunlap 34th 17:54), Luke Heinemann 39th (17:59), Peter Lonnerran 43rd (18:05.96) and Nate Hussung 68th (18:45).
Korte said his Highlanders will just be glad to be at Saturday’s semi-state, but he hopes his runners will still come out strong to compete.
‘We were a little looser today, and I think we had a couple of runners who got a little too worked up,’ Korte said. ‘They sit there and brew about the race for 2-1/2 hours when we’re here. They’re in the tent, and I said, ‘Bring something to get your mind off of it ‘ some played chess ‘ something (to where) you can’t think about your race. We’ll probably go in with the same mentality, and it will be going for, ‘Hey, this is our last race of the year.’ You’re just trying to PR. You hope the weather’s great, and you know the competition will be great; you just go out there for yourself and run.’
‘As always at semi-state, it gets thick, especially those last three or four spots, it’s tough to come by,’ Hook said about the Lady Highlander’s chances. ‘It is, for sure, wide open for the last couple of spots. Usually there’s about four teams fighting for a spot or two, and it’s going to be the same this year.’
Girls’ team scores (Top five to semi-state): 1. Floyd Central 28, 2. Jasper 84, 3. Forest Park 112, 4. Christian Academy of Indiana 136, 5. Corydon Central 139, 6. Soutridge 166, 7. New Albany 167, 8. Providence 188, 9. Northeast Dubois 194, 10. Perry Central 208
Girls’ individual results: 1. McKenna Cavannaugh (CAI) 19:28.82. 2. Kylie Sorg (FC) 19:29.58, 3. Sydney Liddle (CAI) 19:41.11, 4. Caitlin Lueken (Heritage Hills) 19:49.82, 5. Lillian Pearce (FC) 19:55.53, 6. Tara Cassidy (Jspr) 20:05.58, 7. Erica Batliner (FC) 20:11.14, 8. Chloe Loftus (FC) 20:15.17, 9. Josie Berg (FP) 20:19.03, 10. Morgan Paul (FC) 20:23.73, 11. Bayley Wade (Prov) 20:34.29, 12. Shelby Livingston (NED) 20:35.26, 13. Jacqueline Owings (FC) 20:37.14, 14. Natalie Boesing (Prov) 20:49.39, 15. Leah Schnell (Jspr) 20:57.35.
Girls’ individual qualifiers not on qualifying teams: 10. Bailey Wade (Prov), 11, Shelby Livingston (NED), 14. Natalie Boesing (Prov), 16. Jessica Kahle (NED), 17. Elizabeth Dauby (PC), 18. Lauren Weyer (SR), 20. Sadie Rothrock (NH), 22. Olivia Hawkins (NA), 24. Cassidy Thompson (NH).
Boys’ team scores (Top five to semi-state): 1. Tell City 46, 2. Christian Academy of Indiana 103, 3. Jasper 109, 4. Floyd Central 124, 5. New Albany 132, 6. North Harrison 148, 7. Heritage Hills 160, 8. Jeffersonville 170, 9. Northeast Dubois 170, 10. Forest Park 184.
Boys’ individual results: 1. Noah Hufnagel (HH) 16:07, 2. Cole KIllian (Jspr) 16:17, 3. Skylar Stidam (CAI) 16:13, 4. Caleb Futter (CAI) 16:17, 5. Leo Simpson (TC) 16:29, 6. Marcus Graham (Perry Central) 16:39, 7. Thomas Simpson (TC) 16:43, 8. Nate Kaiser (TC) 16:49, 9. Christian Carlton (Crawford County) 16:55, 10. Jeb Knies (NED) 16:59, 11. Reid Masterson (Providence) 17:00, 12. James Haller (NA) 17:01, 13. Nathaniel Lone (NH) 17:12, 14. Sam Owings (FC) 17:13.18, 15. Dustin Lubbehusen (FP) 17:13.85.
Boys’ individual qualifiers not on qualifying teams: 1. Noah Hufnagel (HH), 6. Marcus Graham (PC), 9. Christian Carlton (CrCo), 10. Jeb Knies (NED), 11. Reid Masterson (Prov), 13. Nathaniel Lone (NH), 15. Dustin Lubbehuse (FP), 17. Noah Rothrock (NH), 20. Collier Smith (NH), 21. Justin Curtis (Springs Valley).