By Andy Amey
A chance meeting three falls ago made me a high school cross country fan of Allie True and C.J. Barnett of Northview ever since, and now I’ll get to follow their careers a little farther.
The two Knights signed letters of intent recently to become members of the first cross country team at St. Mary-of-the-Woods, and both are excited about the opportunity — as is coach Danelle Readinger.
“We wanted to be able to run, and do it together,” said True. “St. Mary is a really good college, and we really liked the coach. It was the best opportunity presented to us.”
“Honestly, I wasn’t considering running in college,” added Barnett. “But after meeting Danelle, I thought it would be a great opportunity — to start on [St. Mary’s] first team, and be running with my best friend.”
“I’m so excited to have them,” said Readinger. “The team is coming together well for an inaugural team, and that’s not difficult with girls like [True and Barnett]. They are a joy to be around.”
Readinger has already signed six girls for next fall’s first SMWC season, including Jennifer Hughes of White River Valley.
“My goal was [to sign] eight, and now I think we may end up with eight to 10,” she said. “And it’s great to have two local girls.” A former SouthWestern Indiana Athletic Conference girls cross country champion while at Eastern Greene, Readinger also feels a connection to Hughes, she noted.
Readinger has solicited help from John McNichols and John Gartland at Indiana State in the eventual construction of a home course at The Woods, and the Pomeroys will be able to get some practice time at LaVern Gibson Championship Course. As far as a schedule is concerned, she said, “We’ve been able to get in a lot of [invitational meets], but we’ve got to publicize to a lot of schools that we’re here [fielding a team].”
The coach has no small goals for her new team, however. She’s already looking forward to the United Small College Athletic Association national meet in the fall — and not just to give her first-year team some experience.
“I think they’re more prepared [for college cross country] than they think they are,” she said of her new recruits.
For their part, C.J. and Allie are currently training for their spring track season. They admitted they hadn’t run outside on Thursday — you remember Thursday, don’t you? — but Readinger knows they’ve been diligent. “The last time I talked to them, they were laughing about getting in each other’s way and falling down while running on ice,” the coach said.
C.J. isn’t sure about what she wants to study at The Woods, while Allie has apparently taken a vow of poverty (she wants to study journalism). They’ve applied to be roommates too; “It’s almost guaranteed,” C.J. said. Since Thursday’s call to Allie’s house took care of finding both girls, they apparently almost are already.
• End of a rivalry — or not? Saturday night’s high school basketball game may have been the last between Terre Haute North and Gary Wirt because of change in the Gary school system.
Lots of the Wirt people Saturday said their school was closing after this year, although coach Omar Vazquez isn’t convinced. “The School of Performing Arts is moving into our building,” he explained, “so [Wirt] will probably be known by another name.”
If Wirt’s athletic future is questionable, Vazquez’s is not. “I’m going into the college game [as an assistant at South Suburban College],” he said. “But I know whoever comes in [to Wirt] will have some great kids to work with.”
Possibility of lawsuits in Gary could hold up any plan, I’m also told.
I’d be horrified to see Wirt cease to exist, since it was the site of my greatest (i.e. only) high school football performance, allowing me to average 24 tackles per game my senior year.
For those of you who don’t know that story, that’s four minutes, during which I was credited with two tackles. One tackle every two minutes equals 24 tackles per game.
Of course I didn’t actually make either tackle, but that’s the statistician’s fault.
• Legion tournament here — Got an e-mail recently from John Hayes letting me know that the 2009 American Legion baseball state finals will be hosted by Wayne Newton Post 346 at Terre Haute North High School from July 30 or July 31 through Aug. 2.
Post 346, with one of the younger lineups Hayes and his coaching staff have ever dealt with last summer, will be playing as the host team, and could be a pretty tough out for the other four teams who visit.
• New job — Thanks to alphabetical order, the transaction recently from Trinity (Conn.) College announcing the school’s new assistant women’s tennis coach and assistant women’s squash coach was buried at the bottom of the list.
That person is recent Indiana State tennis player Joanne Schickerling, one of only two women I know from South Africa.
I don’t know how good Trinity’s Bantams are in women’s tennis, but I know the school must have confidence in her to let her coach squash. Trinity’s women are 254-79 in that sport during the past 24 years, the men slightly better than that.
In case you don’t read Sports Illustrated, Trinity’s men’s squash team might be the most dominant college sports team in the country, with a current winning streak of 183.
• MIC honoree — Sarah Higgens of Center Grove is the 2008-2009 Gatorade Indiana Runner of the Year in girls cross country after winning the state championship by 10 seconds at LaVern Gibson Championship Course during the fall.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. for comments or news items at (812) 231-4277 or at 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at email@example.com; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.