Wade Bell, Sports Writer
Just as they did at last week’s sectional, the Floyd Central boys’ and girls’ teams made it a sweep, capturing the Crawford County cross-country regional.
Corydon Central, earning 135 points, placed fifth for the final semi-state qualifying spot on the girls’ side.
Individually, Jasper’s Jackson Miller got the boys’ blue ribbon on the Michael Esarey Cross Country Course, while Floyd Central’s Sydney Liddle ran a blistering pace to earn the top spot in the girls’ division.
South Central’s Maddox Baker took the boys’ field through the first turn at the start of the race. Corydon Central’s Camden Marshall was close behind in second but one shoe short after suffering a wardrobe malfunction about 50 meters into the race. Floyd Central’s Luke Heinemann was fourth as the runners wound their way around the first early turns.
At the half-way point, Miller, who had held back slightly at the start, was in the front position being paced by Forest Park’s Spenser Wolf. Marshall was about 10 meters behind the pair in third, and
Jasper’s Drew O’Neil had moved up to fourth just ahead of Heinemann.
By the finish, Miller had pulled away for an 11-second win over Wolf, running the 5,000 meters in a time of 15:56.1. Marshall stayed in third place, running a time of 16:12.0, with Jasper’s O’Neil fourth (16:22.1) and Southridge’s David Bland moving up to fifth (16:28.1).
Marshall said running with just the one shoe made for an interesting race but admitted there was some pain involved.
“I just tried to push through it because we wanted to get to semi-state as a team,” said Marshall, who later recovered his shoe. “I just tried to have the best race I could without it. It’s pretty painful. The gravel hurts, but it wasn’t too bad.”
Marshall said the plan was to stay with the lead group, even with the one shoe.
“I just wanted to tuck into that lead pack and see what happens,” said the Corydon Central junior. “I didn’t end up staying with them the whole time, but I still felt like I put in a pretty good race. I was pretty close with them through two miles.”
Now, it’s on to the Brown County Semi-state for Marshall as an individual. The Panthers failed to move on as a team, finishing one spot away from the qualifying position in sixth (161 points).
“I feel like I’m in really good shape, and I’m really looking forward to Brown County,” Marshall said. “I’m just going to run hard. I don’t really have an approach to it. I’m just going to run hard and see what happens. I’ll double-knot (my shoes) next time.”
Floyd Central’s Hunter Griffin got by teammate Luke Heinemann during the last half of the race and ran to a sixth-place finish (16:32.3) with Floyd Central senior Eli Johnson seven seconds behind in seventh. Tell City’s Kaden Chestnut was eighth, Northeast Dubois’ Pierce Brinkman ninth and Luke Heinemann grabbed the 10th spot. Mitchell Meier was 11th for the Highlanders with teammates Wade Woosley 15th, Just McWilliams 17th and David Heinemann 18th.
Also making the regional cut were North Harrison’s Jacob Wenning at 13th (16:51.7), South Central’s Maddox Baxter (16th at 16:56.1) and Juke Baker (26th at 17:26.4) along with Corydon Central’s Zach Houghland (31st at 17:33.4).
At regional, South Central’s team finished eighth.
The pace of the girls’ race couldn’t be called anything less than brutal. The start was fast with Forest Park’s Ellie Hall taking the initial lead through the first turn with Floyd Central senior Sydney Liddle tucked close behind in second. Jasper’s Andi VanMeter paced just behind Liddle in third with Northeast Dubois’ Jordan Schweikarth in fourth and Providence’s Maci Hoskins in the fifth spot.
The fast pace continued through the half-way point where Liddle had established a 30-meter lead over VanMeter. Schweikarth and Hall were much farther back in third and fourth, respectively. The next positions saw Floyd Central’s Chloe Loftus, Savanna Liddle, Sydney Baxter and Natalie Clare running together.
Liddle went on to win easily with a fast-paced time of 18:12.5. VanMeter was second at 18:27.7 and Hall third in 18:54.3. Schweikarth was fourth for the Lady Jeeps in a time of 19:02.2 with Floyd Central’s Chloe Loftus fifth (19:21.7), Savanna Liddle sixth (19:34.4), Sydney Baxter seventh (19:35.4) and Natalie Clare eighth (20:02.1). Also for the Lady Highlanders were Carley Conway at 12th (20:13.9) and Meredith Bielefeld at 16th (20:28.3).
Floyd Central won the girls’ event with a total 27 points with Forest Park well back in second with 72 points. Jasper was third with 84 points, and Northeast Dubois was fourth with 115. Corydon Central grabbed the fifth and final girls’ advancing spot with a score of 135 points.
Emily Armstrong led the Lady Panthers with a 14th-place finish in a time of 20:17.8, while teammate Marcie Stewart finished 28th in 21:18.6.
Also for Corydon Central, Ryleigh Lisher was 35th (22:15), Sarah Bailey was 36th (22:17.8), Emma Bailey was 54th (23:23.7), Emily Bruce was 70th (24:47) and Brooklynne Burress was 77th (26:16.3).
“I approached this race way better than last time,” Bruce said. “I went out slower and picked it up. When you go out fast, the air just hits your chest and you’re done. So, what you really want to do is go out slow and steady. You might be the last one but everybody just wanted to push forward more. You just want to lay it out and let them just fall behind you.”
Stewart said she tried to rest her sore legs during the week but was not sure that made her situation better.
“I was pretty worried about it,” said the Corydon Central senior. “I was afraid my fitness would go down. I was worried I didn’t have the endurance I did the rest of the season but my coaches were pretty sure it wouldn’t affect it too much. I did lots of biking and swimming so that kind of helped it, keeping my fitness up. I don’t know if that was it or if I just had an off day.”
Other’s making the regional cut were Providence’s Natalie Boesing (11th at 20:09.5) and Maci Hoskins (20th at 20:48.7), Perry Central’s Vanessa Barger (19th at 20:35.3), Crawford County’s Gabi Gaines (25th at 21:06.4) and North Harrison’s Gracie Rothrock (29th at 21:24.0).
Gaines said the pace was much faster than she expected.
“That was a fast race,” said Gaines. “You started fast and you ended fast … We were looking at four teams who would mostly make it out which is always going to be Floyd, Forest Park, those were the teams we were seeing so I tried to stay with people up there but they just started off way too fast. I was trying to stay with (Corydon’s) Emily (Armstrong) and Marcie (Stewart) in the beginning but their pace was too fast so then I stuck with Perry Central’s number one runner (Vanessa Barger), the one who won PLAC. I stuck with her for a little while and then she started to kick off. Then I just started pacing myself more.”
This weekend’s semi-state race at Brown County’s flat course is also expected to be fast unless this week’s weather changes the conditions of the course.
Boys’ team scores (top five advance) – 1. Floyd Central 43, 2. Jasper 52, 3. New Albany 137, 4. Borden 137, 5. Tell City 145, 6. Corydon Central 161, 7. Forest Park 163, 8. South Central 182, 9. Northeast Dubois 196, 10. Heritage Hills 222.
Boys’ individual results – 1. Jackson Miller (Jspr) 15:56.1, 2. Spenser Wolf (FP) 16:07.5, 3. Camden Marshall (Cory) 16:12.0, 4. Drew O’Neil (Jspr) 16:22.1, 5. Dylan Bland (Srdge) 16:28.1, 6. Hunter Griffin (FC) 16:32.3, 7. Eli Johnson (FC)16:39.0, 8. Kaden Chestnut (TC) 16:40.7, 9. Pierce Bringkman (NED) 16:41.0, 10. Luke Heinemann (FC) 16:44.3, 11. Mitchel Meier (FC) 16:44.4, 12. Jaryn Weinel (Jspr) 16:46.1, 13. Jacob Wenning (NH) 16:51.7, 14. Sterling Mikel (Bor) 16:53.8, 15. Wade Woosley (FC) 16:55.4.
Boys’ semi-state qualifiers not on a qualifying team – 2. Spenser Wolf (FP), 3. Camden Marshall (Cory), 5. Dylan Bland (Srdge), 9. Pierce Bringkman (NED), 13. Jacob Wenning (NH), 16. Maddox Baker (SCent), 20. Gameron Giles (Srdge), 24. Bryce Troesch (FP), 26. Juke Baker (SCent), 31. Zach Houghland (Cory) 17:33.4.
Girls’ team scores (top five advance) – 1. Floyd Central 27, 2. Forest Park 72, 3. Jasper 84, 4. Northeast Dubois 115, 5. Corydon Central 135, 6. Borden 167, 7. Perry Central 176, 8. Heritage Hills 188, 9. Providence 188.
Girls’ individual results – 1. Sydney Liddle (FC) 18:12.5, 2. Andi VanMeter (Jspr) 18:27.7, 3. Ellie Hall (FP) 18:54.3, 4. Jordan Schweikarth (NED) 19:02.2, 5. Chloe Loftus (FC) 19:21.7, 6. Savanna Liddle (FC) 19:34.5, 7. Sydney Baxter (FC) 19:39.4, 8. Natalie Clare (FC) 20:02.1, 9. Josie Berg (FP) 20:06.8, 10. Katie Winkler (HH) 20:08.5, 11. Natalie Boesing (Prov) 20:09.5, 12. Carley Conway (FC) 20:13.9, 13. Danielle Eckert (FP) 20:15.9, 14. Emily Armstrong (Cory) 20:17.8, 15. Sara Livingston (NED) 20:19.4.
Girls’ semi-state qualifiers not on a qualifying team – 10. Katie Winkler (HH), 11. Natalie Boesing (Prov), 19. Vanessa Barger (PC), 20. Maci Hoskins (Prov), 21. Jill Kaiser (TC), 24. Katlie Magallanes (Bor), 25. Gabi Gaines (CC), 26. Brooklyn Tretter (Srdge), 27. Kiara Bundy (TC), 29. Gracie Rothrock (NH).