South Central’s Baker advances to state
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
A fast course made for a fast day at the Brown County cross-country semi-state Saturday morning with personal bests falling all over the place as more than 40 teams and other individual racers tried to make their way into Saturday’s state finals in Terre Haute. By the end of the day, both the Floyd Central Highlanders and Superchicks punched their tickets for an extra day as did South Central’s Maddox Baker.
The boys’ race got off to a fast start, and it was obvious from the beginning there were going to be fast times recorded. Floyd Central was in good position from the beginning with Will Conway and South Central’s Maddox Baker running in the top 10 through the first 1,000 meters, while Forest Park’s Spenser Wolf took the point.
“I didn’t expect everybody to go with the leaders at the start,” said Baker. “Everybody did, so I was, ‘I might as well try to stay with them.’ It was fast.”
“I was just telling myself ‘I’ve got to be tough. I’ve got to run smart. I know I belong with the top guys’,” Conway said. “I went up with the leaders and I wasn’t smart but, when I knew I went out too hard, I didn’t give up. I stayed checked in, and I think that made a good race for me.”
At the 1,000-meter mark, Wolf was still up front with Conway in third. Floyd Central’s Weston Naville was just outside the top 25 but still in sight of the lead group.
“I wasn’t up front as I normally am,” Naville said. “I could have been up farther, but I sat back a little in the first mile and a half then moved up so it worked out for me. But it was pretty fast all around the race. It was a good course today with a lot of good performances.”
At just over halfway, Columbus North’s Reese Kilbarger-Stumpft went to the front with Wolf still in second and Jasper’s Abram Eckman third. Conway and Baker still kept themselves in the top 10 as the runners set their minds toward the finish.
At the finish, Stumpft won by a 10-second margin over Wolf, finishing the 5k in a time of 15 minutes, 10.5 seconds, and Eckman stayed in the third position to the end. Conway raced his way against Northview’s Nerius White to a seventh-place finish in 15:39.9, and Baker battled Terre Haute South’s Matt Gambill to crack the top 10 in 10th in a time of 15:44.9. Naville moved up to 11th in 15:45.5.
“He’s a good racer,” Conway said of White. “We were stride for stride, and we were coming fast. I’m a lot more happy with today. This was a whole lot more competition today.”
“Coming through here on the second lap we crossed those (timing) mats and I was like, ‘Dang, this last half is going to be rough’,” Baker said. “I wasn’t feeling that great, and then I took a couple of deep breaths and powered through the rest of this straight stretch. Once I hit that corner, I opened up a little bit more and then the Central kid caught me. The Central kid and Columbus North made a move a little bit and took off and I just couldn’t hold with them.”
Baker said the last hundred meters was wild with the crowd screaming and runners trying to get by on both sides.
“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen because I had two or three people pass me down this hill with maybe 400 left,” he said. “I tried to go with them a little bit, but I killed myself the first two miles. I couldn’t hold them, but I knew there was a little bit of a gap between us so I got on this last straight stretch and tried to hold it with the people that just passed me. I kept on checking behind me. I wasn’t going on full-on sprint until the last 15 meters, and I looked back and the Terre Haute South kid and Weston from Floyd both were right on me. I tried to hold it but (the South kid) passed me.”
Naville said there was only one plan for the day.
“Not go home and go to state,” Naville said. “That was priority No. 1. Other than that, we were just trying to put together everything we’ve been working on, not fall apart and work the last mile. … ”
The Floyd Central Highlanders finished third as team with 151 points. Behind Conway and Naville, Mitchel Meier was 25th (16:04.6), Adam Heitz 60th (16:48.8), Noah Nifong 71st (16:58.5), Nathan Wheatley 89th (17:09.2) and Luca Cirincione 90th (17:09.2).
Austin also had a huge day, grabbing the last state finals berth.
The big thing for the Floyd Central Superchicks team was the return of senior Jaydon Cirincione, who had missed the last three races due to a pulled hamstring. Boonville’s Emma Gresham went to the front at the start but didn’t stay there very long as Columbus North’s Julie Kiesler went up front by the first kilometer mark with Jasper’s Andi VanMeter second.
Cirincione held back slightly at the start while the pack sorted themselves out but then moved up to ninth with teammates Kaitlyn Stewart and Savanna Liddle several places behind. Corydon Central’s Addison Applegate and Erika Valdivieso fell out of the top 25 but continued to fight to stay with the lead pack.
At just over halfway, Kiesler was dominating the race with Forest Park’s Ellie Hall making a contention for the top five, running third and Cirincione fourth. At the line, Kiesler won easily in a time of 17 minutes, 41.7 seconds. Hall moved up to second down the stretch to finish in 18:08.9, and Columbus North’s Brianna Newell was third in 18:16.2. Cirincione went on to claim fourth in 18:22.8.
Cirincione is hoping for a much better finish at this year’s state meet. Last year, she fell just short of the finish line and was passed by four runners but still was able to grab the final All-State spot at 25th.
Floyd Central’s Stewart was eighth in 18:32.3, and Liddle finished 15th in 18:52.4. Elliott Emerson was 32nd (19:14.3), Hallie Mosier 54th (20:07.0), Meredith Bielefeld 64th (20:19.4) and Alice Main 76th (20:25.2) to pace the Superchicks to a second-place finish in the team standings.
“There’s so many people that you have to go fast so that you don’t get boxed in,” Stewart said. “It’s not a mental race; it’s an actual race. At this course, everyone tends to go out really fast because it narrows pretty quickly. You kind of have to be patient and work your way up gradually. The last ‘k,’ I was just going for it and I just pushed myself. I ended up getting close to my PR, so I was happy with it.”
Floyd Central girls’ coach Carl Hook said the rest was a big help for Cirincione.
He said this week’s state finals race will be about each runner running their own race.
“It gets out crazy and fast,” Hook said. “Some of us will be farther back in the pack than we have been. We really have to stick through our race and our game plan and not get caught up. You almost have to have blinders on at state. If you do that, you’ll come back. … .”
The Corydon Central girls’ team finished 10th with 306 points, falling short of a state final slot. Applegate was nine places short of the 31st-place cutoff, finishing 40th (19:35.5), and Valdivieso was 41st in 19:36.1.
“I went out really fast, and I had to get a good start,” said Applegate. “I’m just happy about my time because I got in 19s. I haven’t done that hardly all season, so I’m excited about that. I’m proud. I wish, placement-wise, a little farther up there, but I’m happy about my time. That’s all really that matters.”
Boys’ Scores (Top 6 to state) – Columbus North 45, Bloomington North 129, Floyd Central 151, Northview 157, Bloomington South 196, Austin 213, Castle 220, Jasper 257, Evansville F,J. Reitz 277, Terre Haute South 280, Jennings County 290, Evansville Central 293, Forest Park, 297, New Albany 320, Evansville Reitz Memorial 347, Tell City 358, South Knox 359, Brown County 441, Seymour 443, Bloomfield 528.
Boys’ Results – 1. Reese Kilbarger-Stumpft (CN) 15:10.5, 2. Spencer Wolf (FP) 15:18.4, 3. Abram Eckman (Jspr) 15:21.8, 4. Matthew Newell (CN) 15;30.3, 5. Alexander Hooten (EvCnt) 15:31.6, 6. Nolan Bailey (BN) 15:37.7, 7. Will Conway (FC) 15:39.9, 8. Nerius White (Nvw) 15:40.0, 9. Matt Gambill (THS) 15:44.9, 10. Maddox Baker (SCnt) 15:44.9, 11. Weston Naville (FC) 15:45.5, 12. Clayton Guthrie (CN) 15:46.3, 13. Mateo Mendez (CN) 15:48.6, 14. Trevor Monroe (Cstl) 15:50.0, 15. Aaron Lord (NA) 15:50.3, 16. Alex Nolan (EvFJRtz) 15;53.1, 17. Chase Austin (Cstl) 15:53.2), 18. Evan Carr (CN) 15:54.4 , 19. Jcim Grant (Nvw) 15:54.8, 20. Aidan Lord (NA) 15:55.4.
Qualifiers from non-qualifying teams – 2. Spenser Wolf (FP), 3. Abram Eckman (Jspr), 5. Alexander Hooten (EvCnt), 9. Matt Gambill (THS), 10. Maddox Baker (SCnt), 14. Trevor Monroe (Cstl), 15. Aaron Lord (NA), 16. Alex Nolen (EVR ) 17. Chase Austin (BC), 20. Aidan Lord (NA).
Girls’ Scores (Top 6 to state) – Columbus North 65, Floyd Central 96, Northview 110, Jasper 164, Bloomington South 175, Princeton Comm. 201, Bloomington South 238, Seymour 240, South Knox 274, Corydon Central 306, Evansville F.J. Reitz 319, Edgewood 331, Forest Park 342, Terre Haute South 359, Austin 372, Pike Central 376, Jennings County 391, Barre Reeve 392, Columbus East 398, Heritage Hills 484.
Girls’ Results – 1. Julie Kiesler (CN) 17:41.7, 2. Ellie Hall (FP) 18:08.9, 3. Brianna Newell (CN) 18:16.2, 4. Jaydon Cirincione (FC) 18:22.8, 5. Gnister Grant (Nvw) 18:28.7, 6. Andi VanMeter (Jspr) 18:31.7, 7. Lily Myers (BS) 18:32.1, 8. Kaitlyn Stewart (FC) 18:32.3, 9. Heidi Meade (Prnctn) 18:39.3, 10. Haley Meade (Prnctn) 18:43.2, 11. Crain Clara (Egwd) 18;46.8, 12. Xavery Weisman (Pike) 18:48.1, 13. Hadley Gradolf (BC) 18:48.4, 14. Ella Hayes (Nvw) 18:48.9, 15. Savanna Liddle (FC) 18:52.8, 16. Emma Gresham (Bnvl) 18:53.5, 17. Peyton Smith (LinStck) 18:53.5, 18. Cordelia Hoover (EvRtz) 18:54.9, 19. Rachel Allison (BN) 18:56.5, 20. Maci Hoskins (Prov) 18:57.2.
Qualifiers from non-qualifying teams – 2. Ellie Hall (FP) 7. Lily Myers (BS), 11. Carin Clara (Egwd), 12. Xavery Weisman (Pike), 13. Hadley Gradoff (BC), 16, Emma Gresham (Bnvl), 17. Peyton Smith (LinStck), 18. Cordelia Hoover (EvRtz), 20. Maci Hoskins (Prov), 31. Ava Like (SKnx).