Floyd defends regional X-C titles
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The Floyd Central boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams continued their domination in Southern Indiana by defending last year’s championships with a sweep of this year’s Crawford County regional on Saturday. Both the Highlanders and Superchicks held off the runner-up teams from Jasper, which got individual wins in both races.
“We had seven in front of their four,” said Floyd Central boys’ coach Tim Korte. “We left some points on the table though. We had some people run really well. I had Mitchel (Meier), Luca (Cirincione) and Nate (Wheatley) run really well, but definitely some guys had off days. That wasn’t our best race, and that’s OK.”
“Considering the course, we ran really well today,” Floyd Central girls’ coach Carl Hook said of the Superchicks. “We focused on and talked most of the week about racing against the course and attacking the course where we could run fast and being respectful to the course. We couldn’t. We were trying to take care of ourselves to get through the muddy parts of the course. They raced the course like they were supposed to really well. It was a great team race today, so I’m very proud of them.”
The mud Hook talked about was worsened on Thursday and Friday before Saturday’s meet when heavy thunderstorms dropped more rain on the already soaked ground, making for sloppier conditions on parts of the Mike Esarey Cross Country Course than the week before for the sectional run.
In the boys’ race, Jasper’s Abram Eckman took the point with Floyd Central’s Weston Naville, Tell City’s Lewis Kaufman, Jasper’s Jaryn Weinel, Floyd Central’s Will Conway, Springs Valley’s Grant Brown and South Central’s Maddox Baker clustered together a few steps behind through the first turn.
By the halfway point, Forest Park’s Spenser Wolf moved up from the second pack to take the lead over Eckman with Baker in third. Naville ran next to New Albany’s Aidan Lord and Weinel with New Albany’s Aaron Lord a step behind.
At the finish, Eckman easily won in a time of 16 minutes, 1.2 seconds with Wolf second in 16:06.9 and Baker third in 16:14.9. Aaron Lord was fourth (16:18.3), and Aidan Lord fifth (16:19.9). Naville finished sixth in 16:27.4, and Weinel finished seventh. Conway was eighth.
“I made a mistake about a half-mile in,” Baker said. “I let everybody go in front of me, and I got pretty close to them and trucking behind them and they’re throwing mud all over me. It was awful, so I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ and I shot around them on a hill and tried to keep in front. I didn’t want to get super muddy.”
“I’m really happy with it,” he said. “That’s what I was going for. I was trying to be as close to Spenser Wolf and Abe Eckman to see if I could stay 10 to 15 seconds behind them. I think I did that pretty well.”
“Today, the cool weather was nice but, just around the turns and around some of the hills, you had to slow down and maybe get to the side just so you didn’t fall down and maybe take out other people with you,” said Naville. “The cooler weather definitely helps mentally and physically, but the course condition definitely takes away any benefit that would have had.”
Conway was less than happy with his eighth-place performance.
“The race went out fast, and it clearly wasn’t my day,” he said. “Everyone has those days, so I’m hoping to come back stronger next week. It was muddy, but that’s no excuse for how I performed. I don’t have an excuse at all. I ran bad, and I’ve got to come back and get a good week of training in and get ready for these two weeks of racing.”
One runner who was happy was North Harrison’s Jacob Wenning, who made the regional cut with a 16th-place finish in 17:30.4.
“It’s definitely the hardest regional I’ve ever run over the four years,” said the senior. “The course wasn’t ideal, but it was fun and I was happy with how I did. Whenever we went on the warm-up, we tried to figure out what was the best, but then, in the race, I just ended up running straight through all of the mud and everything and trucking on through everything.”
The Highlanders won the team championship over Jasper by a 14-point decision. Forest Park was third, New Albany fourth and Tell City fifth to advance to the Brown County semi-state Saturday.
“We’re moving on again, and we’re excited about semi-state,” Korte said. “It’s completely different and such a big change. The amount of teams and the quantity and quality, it’s a game-changer, but we usually run really well there. We’ll have to see what’s wrong with Will. Hopefully, it’s just a bad day. … ”
In the girls’ race, Jasper’s Andi VanMeter immediately took the lead at the start with Corydon Central’s Addison Applegate five spots back and Floyd Central’s Savanna Liddle right behind her. Floyd Central sophomore Kaitlyn Stewart was pushed back to the 10th spot. At halfway, VanMeter was about five meters ahead of Liddle with Stewart moving up to third and Forest Park’s Ellie Hall in fourth. Jasper’s Ally Wigand was behind Hall in fifth.
By the finish, VanMeter had pulled farther ahead, winning in 19:07.9, with Hall second in 19:12.6. Stewart moved up to third in 19:14.3, and Liddle finished in 19:20.9 for fourth. Floyd Central’s Emerson Elliott rounded out the top five in 19:49.2, and Applegate finished ninth in 20:30.0.
Times for the race were actually faster than last week’s sectional run. Stewart said the cooler air contributed to that despite the mud.
“It was actually pretty cool today, so that was a littler motivation booster,” said the Floyd Central sophomore. “It helps you cool off so you’re not overheating during the run. It makes you feel a little better. This week we ended up racing the whole time instead of pack running the first two miles. So, it was game on from the start.”
“The course was a lot muddier and harder to run,” Applegate said. “I got out a lot faster than I did last time so I could get a good time because it was muddy. The first 600 meters is the best place to get your position from the beginning.”
The Superchicks won the team title with a total of 36 points. Jasper was 11 points behind in second. Corydon Central finished third to advance, and Forest Park was fourth. Heritage Hills also advanced, finishing fifth.
“We’ve been on some fast courses, but next week we challenge the crowd more than we challenge the course with the long, fast straights if it’s dry. It looks like it should be,” said Hook. “If it’s dry, we’ll go out and kind of race the crowd and get in where we need to in the crowd. It’s a whole different group for sure with Columbus North and Northview and Bloomington North being all good. Things change dramatically from here. We’re ready for that. We’ve worked hard all summer and ready for fall, and we’re ready to go for the important part of the season. Right now, the last two races is what we’ve been looking forward to.”
Boys’ scores (Top 5 to semi-state) – Floyd Central 55, Jasper 69, Forest Park 107, New Albany 116, Tell City 135, Heritage Hills 155, Borden 163, South Central 168, Corydon Central 217, Perry Central 228.
Boys’ results – 1. Abram Eckman (Jspr) 16:01.2, 2. Spenser Wolf (FP), 3. Maddox Baker (SCnt) 16:14.9, 4. Aaron Lord (NA) 16:18.3, 5. Aidan Lord (NA) 16:19.9, 6. Weston Naville (FC) 16:27.4, 7. Jaryn Weinel (Jspr) 16:32.4, 8. Will Conway (FC) 16:49.0, 9. Alexander Pinckney (CAI) 16:51.8, 10. Mitchel Meier (FC) 16:53.8, 11. Harrison Hulsman (Jspr) 17:13.6, 12. Aiden Mattingly (HH) 17:14.6, 13. Benjamin Jacobs (NA) 17:21.5, 14. Pierce Lashley (HH) 17:26.1, 15. Ben Kelly (Prov) 17:30.1, 16. Jacob Wenning (NH) 17:30.4, 17. Noah Nifong (FC) 17:31.3. 18. Bryce Troesch (FP) 17:33.3, 19. Sterling Mikel (Bor) 17:35.3, 20. Aiden Marion (TC) 17:37.7.
Qualifiers from non-qualifying teams – 3. Maddox Baker (SCnt), 9. Alexander Pinckney (CAI), 12. Aiden Mattingly (HH), 14. Pierce Lashley (HH), 15. Ben Kelly (Prov), 16. Jacob Wenning (NH), 19. Sterling Mikel (Bor), 22. Preston Liebert (SCnt), 23. Nolan Flispart (Bor), 26. Grant Brown (SVal).
Girls’ scores (Top 5 to semi-state) – Floyd Central 36, Jasper 47, Corydon Central 90, Forest Park 97, Heritage Hills 152, New Albany 163, Tell City 183, Northeast Dubois 185, Borden 205, North Harrison 262.
Girls’ results – 1. Andi VanMeter (Jspr) 19:07.9, 2. Ellie Hall (FP) 19:12.6, 3. Kaitlyn Stewart (FC) 19:14.3, 4. Savanna Liddle (FC) 19:20.9, 5. Emerson Elliott (FC) 19:49.2, 6. Maci Hoskins (Prov) 19:54.1, 7. Linzi VanMeter (Jspr) 20:06.9, 8. Ally Wigland (Jspr) 20:12.4, 9. Addison Applegate (Cory) 20:30.0, 10. Sara Livingston (NED) 20:42.0, 11. Erika Valdivieso (Cory) 20:46.7, 12. Meredith Bielefeld (FC) 20:48.4, 13. Monica Lorey (Jspr) 20:49.3, 14. Hallie Mosier (FC) 20:58.2, 15. Alice Main (FC) 21.00.8, 16. Karli Kitten (FP) 21:14.4, 17. Vanessa Seymour (FC) 21:18.5, 18. Emma DeWeese (SSpnc) 21:20.7, 19. Kelsey Wibbeler (Srdg) 21:21.9, 20. Gabby Holland (Cory) 21:22.5.
Qualifiers from non-qualifying teams – 6. Maci Hoskins (Prov), 10. Sara Livingston (NED), 18. Emma DeWeese (SSpnc), 19. Kelsey Wibbeler (Srdg), 21. Paige Wildman (NED), 25. Lauren Clark (NA), 26. Clare Leathers (Srdg), 27. Emma Blessinger (Srdg), 28. Emma Hollinden (TC), 29. Priscilla Byrd (NA).