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Panthers’ XC coach pleased with first meet results

Panthers’ XC coach pleased with first meet results
Panthers’ XC coach pleased with first meet results
Person running on path

When the Corydon Central Panthers cross-country team did a virtual meet-up on May 19 to talk about summer training and the upcoming season, there were a lot of unknowns. While acknowledging the myriad of factors that could affect the upcoming summer and fall seasons, coaches encouraged the athletes to focus on “controlling the controllables” and putting in a hard summer of training, regardless of the questions surrounding the upcoming season.

The athletes took that to heart and put in the strongest summer training that the program has ever had, according to coach Daniel Love.

During that nine-week summer training period, Corydon Central runners put in more than 417 hours of training and enough mileage as a group to run the 3,000-plus mile coast-to-coast trip from Boston to Los Angeles.

Still, Love said, doubt and questions remained about whether all that work would lead to a chance to race in the fall.

Coming off of track and field season being canceled in the spring, the elephant in the room question at that May meeting was: “Will we even have a meet this year?”

Fortunately, that question was answered “yes” with a big sigh of relief as the team opened its season Saturday at the second Borden Invitational.

The Panthers started the season with a strong first-place outing by the girls’ team, which was led by freshman Addison Applegate in first place with a time of 20:55.

Corydon Central runners rounded out with four other athletes in the top 10: Erika Valdivieso fourth, Emily Armstrong fifth, Morgan Adams eighth and Emily Gunther 10th.

“We put in a really solid day as a group with several runners stepping up to win one-on-one battles today out on the course, which was our big focus area,” Love said. “This is a group that we’ve been really excited to watch race because all of them have been (ready) to go since track season was canceled, and we were not disappointed.

“Now, we have to get back to training, which this group does a really good job with,” he said. “We have had some hard early season workouts that they have been up for, and it showed dividends today on the course.”

On the boys’ side, the Panthers finished third overall, six points behind Forest Park with Borden winning its home invitational.

Camden Marshall led the Panthers with a time of 16:55 for a second-place finish to Forest Park’s Spencer Wolf.

Bryce Weber, sixth, and Zach Hougland, 15th, earned top 15 honors on the day and helped push the Panthers to a solid team score.

“By the time the guys ran, the temperature and humidity definitely increased, and the course was a bit sloppier,” Love said. “I thought our guys did a good job working through that today, along with the burn that just comes from an early season race.

“We knew heading into this season that Borden was going to be a very strong team on the guys’ side, and we’ve had several discussions with our runners about how tough our sectional is going to be this year,” he said. “Today, we challenged them to focus on making good decisions on the course to compete with the runners in front of and beside them and wanted them to get comfortable being uncomfortable. We had several runners step up and push themselves today, which is what we want to see. Bryce Weber had a fantastic race today, and we were really excited for Lukas Faith to open his senior season with a PR on the day.”

The Panthers are scheduled to return to action today (Wednesday) with a home Hokum Karem meet before a rare weekend off from racing. Today’s event is set to begin at 6 p.m.