TERRE HAUTE — If you see Steve DeGroote at a high school cross country meet in the next couple months, wish him well and give him a hug because this is his farewell to coaching West Vigo athletics.
Starting his 28th season of guiding the West Vigo girls cross country team, DeGroote has taken a volunteer assistant-coaching position with the Indiana State University baseball program. A former boys and girls basketball coach and more recently the head baseball coach of the Vikings, he told the Tribune-Star that this girls cross country season will be his last of any sport at West Vigo.
Asked about any sentimental feelings he might have, DeGroote preferred to focus on helping the girls on the 2013 team than himself.
“We’re just a little behind,” he assessed after the Vikings’ season-opening 15-45 home loss to Greencastle on Tuesday. “But I think we’re going to be OK. I think by sectional time [Oct. 15 at LaVern Gibson Championship Course], we’ll make a push at advancing to the regional.”
With that in mind, here is a look at the girls and boys cross country teams from Vigo County and Northview high schools:
• Northview — Third-year coach Rexanne Laue has at least one state-finals hopeful on the Knights this season as they prepare to debut today in the Bloomington North Early Bird Meet at the Gibson course in Vigo County.
Northview is led by that hopeful, junior Ashley Kidwell, as well as junior Emily Conrad. Beyond that is a bunch of inexperienced runners — junior Ashley Arnold (first year in cross country) and freshmen Chelsea Hines, Abby Conrad (Emily’s younger sister), Kourtney Johnson and Julia Smith.
“We’re a very young team,” Laue admitted. “Individually, I think my top two runners will go far.”
Looking at the Western Indiana Conference, Laue acknowledged that winning the team championship would be a longshot. “I’m hoping I have two or three girls who get in the top 10 [individuals],” she added.