‘It was perfect’ - Marshall closes to 59th
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
For the Floyd Central boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams, that bad day came at the worst possible time as both teams faltered, placing 19th at the Indiana High School Athletic Association state final on Saturday in Terre Haute.
Meanwhile, Corydon Central’s Camden Marshall, as well as runners from Forest Park and Eastern (Pekin), were able to smile with solid finishes at the LaVerne Gibson Cross Country Course.
Marshall started on the outside of the field from lane seven and got a good start racing toward the leaders. The Highlanders, however, started in the middle of the field, 20 lanes over, and found themselves sandwiched amongst the 214 runners.
Lowell’s Gabriel Sanchez and Highland’s Lucas Guerra battled through most of the race and were running side by side through the 4,000-meter mark. Sanchez finally began to pull away through the final turn toward the long straight to the finish. Sanchez went on to win in a time of 15 minutes, 28.7 seconds with Guerra second in 15:32.9. The first 16 runners all finished under the 16-minute mark.
Eastern’s Uriah Guthrie and Forest Park’s Spenser Wolf broke into the top 50. Guthrie was 41st in a time of 16:24.3, while Wolf finished two spots behind in 43rd in a time of 16:24.6. Marshall, who was running in his first state final, missed the top 50 by nine spots, finishing 59th in a time of 16:31.4.
“It was definitely an experience,” said Marshall after his run. “It was more packed than all of the other races I’ve run. It was a completely different race than I’m used to, but I had fun and I ran hard so that’s all you can really ask for.”
Marshall said the conditions were good for a solid run.
“It was perfect,” he said. “It was nice and dry, and the weather was perfect. It was perfect for a race.”
“I knew it was a nice long straightaway,” said Marshall, who has preferred track to cross-country. “I just wanted to use my track speed to catch some guys at the end. I know what I need to work on and do next year leading up to state next year.”
Luke Heinemann was the first to cross the finish line for the Highlanders but was well back of the leaders at 82nd in a time of 16:46.7. Of his teammates, Eli Johnson was 98th in 16:53.2, Mitchell Meier 134th in 17:08.1, Hunter Griffin 135th in 17:08.3, Weston Naville 151st in 17:16.4, Justin McWilliams 170th in 17:33.0 and David Heinemann 183rd in 17:46.0.
“It’s always going to be tough getting out when you don’t have any top, tough guys,” said a disappointed Luke Heinemann. “We were just trying to look for teams that we could gauge off of and try to get out just well enough … I didn’t notice the wind until we came in the home street stretch. It was a lot muddier than I thought it was going to be, but it was faster than last year.”
It was Heinemann’s last cross-country race of his high school career. The Floyd Central senior will be back in the spring for track, however.
“It’s been pretty fun,” Heinemann said. “(Track) is a little different. It’s not as much a team sport. This is kind of my family, so it’s a little tough. I’m going to try to run somewhere in college. Right now, I’m going to try to focus on track season and see what I can do.”
The Jasper Wildcats finished 17th as a team with Drew O’Neil leading the team, finishing 112th in a time of 16:58.2. Dylan Bland, of Southridge, also representing Dubois County, finished 118th in 17:00.4.
For a while in the girls’ race, it appeared the Lady Highlanders were going to have a really good day. Sydney Liddle got out to a good start as she and her teammates worked to run with the front pack. At the mile, Liddle was solidly in the top 20 with the Floyd Central team sixth in the standings at the halfway point, according to electronic timing sensors.
At that point, the Lady Highlanders faded. Whether it was the winds that picked up with a dropping temperature, the brutal pace or the pressure, the Lady Highlanders began to drop back. While Erin Strzelecki (Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger) went on to win a fast time of 17:22.9, just ahead of Edgewood’s Annalyssa Crain, the runner-up and early pace setter at 17:44.6. Liddle began to fall back sharply in the last 400-meter stretch, being passed by multiple runners. Liddle went on to finish 51st in a time of 19:13.7 and was distraught after her finish.
“I got out really good, and I was really happy with that,” said the senior after regaining her composure. “I was probably in the top 15 at the mile, and I was like, ‘OK, this is going good so far.’ Then, I’m not really sure what happened. I just kept getting passed, and I just kind of hit a wall. My goal today was to get all-state, of course. Going in, I was nervous, but I thought it was something I could definitely do.”
Liddle said the running conditions were perfect for her.
“I honesty don’t know what happened,” she said. “I was almost like in a daze. I knew I was getting passed and I couldn’t go.”
“I’m going to put this race behind me,” Liddle said. “Honestly, I run to glorify God, and I’m just so thankful for being able to run even though today was not my best. I won conference. I won sectionals. I won regionals, and I was runner-up at semi-state last week and I’m really happy with that. I think I’m just going to look forward.”
Of her teammates, Savanna Liddle was 110th in 20:02.7, Natalie Clare 119th in 20:11.9, Sydney Baxter 156th in 20:46.4, Carley Conway 184th in 21:30, Chloe Loftus 190th in 21:51.8 and Jaydon Cirincione 194th in 22:03.6.
“The whole course you had to battle through and it was a bit muddy too, so there were parts where you had to work up the hills and there’s a lot of curves and you have to ride the tangents to get the most out of it,” Baxter said. “We went into it hoping for top 10 and better than we did last year. We had a spaghetti dinner, and we prepared well last night. We went to bed early and had a good breakfast and everything and warmed up great.”
Baxter, being a junior, will have another chance next season and will use this as another learning experience.
“Whatever you do, you’ve just got to go out there and work hard and not race the crowd,” she said. “I’m thankful that I have another opportunity to race next year. I learn every year something new and some things to work on for next year.”
Floyd Central girls’ coach Carl Hook said the team will evaluate what happened and use that information for later races.
“You never know when you come to state,” said Hook. “It was a very tough day. The conditions are tough, and you never know what you’re going to get when you come up here. We condition hard, and the girls do everything they can to get ready and still it’s a tough day for them. You’ve got cold weather, and you never know what you’re going to get.”
The start was there.
“We were really happy with the way things were rolling and something got the best of us by the time we got to the end,” he said. “The effort was there, and that’s all we judge them on. It’s how hard they work, and they work hard. They just didn’t have it today.”
Besides Liddle, the Lady Highlanders will also lose Loftus, Conway and Amanda Howe to graduation.
“Sydney, Chloe, Carly and, of course, Mandy; they all had great careers here at Floyd Central,” Hook said. “We’re extremely proud of everything they accomplished. One thing we sure don’t do is judge their season or career on one race. They’ve been great for us, and we’re proud to have them and proud of them.”
Jasper’s Andi VanMeter placed 50th, finishing in 19:13.4. Forest Park’s Ellie Hall was 102nd in 19:56.8 and Northeast Dubois freshman Jordan Schweikarth was 139th in 20:34.3.
Boys’ team scores: 1. Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran 93, 2. Carmel 111, 3. Brebeuf Jesuit 135, 4. Columbus North 162, 5. Brownsburg 214, 6. Homestead 215, 7. Crown Point 243, 8. Fishers 262, 9. Bloomington South 284, 10. Hamilton Southeastern 320, 11. Valparaiso 331, 12. Zionsville 332, 13. Noblesville 352, 14. Center Grove 357, 15. West Lafayette Harrison 374, 16. Chesterton 377, 17. Jasper 377, 18. Bloomington North 414, 19. Floyd Central 432, 20. West Lafayette 455, 21. West Noble 458, 22. New Prairie 462, 23. Columbia City 464, 24. Northview 589, 25. Lake Central 608.
Girls’ team scores: 1. Fort Wayne Carroll 101, 2. Zionsville 143, 3. Carmel 162, 4. Fishers 192, 5. Columbus North 195, 6. Brebeuf Jesuit 201, 7. Noblesville 243, 8. Valparaiso 258, 9. Homestead 287, 10. Bloomington North 290, 11. Indianapolis Bishop Chatard 309, 12. West Lafayette 321, 13. Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter 329, 14. Ft. Wayne Concordia Lutheran 340, 15. Hamilton Southeastern 343, 16. Northridge 367, 17. West Lafayette Harrison 442, 18. Lake Central 448, 19. Floyd Central 456, 20. Lowell 459, 21. Portage 464, 22. Bloomington South 485, 23. Edgewood 505, 24. Northview 536.