News From Terre Haute, Indiana

High School

October 16, 2013

As expected, South boys, North girls finish as top teams in cross country sectional

TERRE HAUTE — Let the road back to LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course begin.

The No. 7-ranked Terre Haute South boys, sparked by one of the state’s top trio of runners, cruised to the boys team sectional title at the Gibson course with just 20 points to runner-up Terre Haute North’s 78. The West Vigo boys also advanced to Saturday’s Bedford North Lawrence Regional by placing fifth; the Vikings were led by junior Jonah Eckert, who was 10th in a time of 17:40.1.

South’s Jackson Bertoli wasn’t looking for a lightning fast time on Tuesday’s rainy afternoon but the individual state title contender ran a solid 5K time of 16 minutes, 23 seconds at the site of this year’s state finals. Riley Stohler was second in 16:28.6 and junior Spencer Danielson third in 16:32.0.

“I’m really excited about our top three, I call us The Big 3. I think all season we knew we were going to have one of the best trios in the state,” said Bertoli, who led the same trio last week as three of the top six at the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference met. “Not really until the MIC last week have we gotten all three of the guys on it on the same race. It really showed how hard those other two guys have been working. It’s exciting them work together and seeing Riley, who was a track star in the spring, transitioning over into cross country. And Spencer, who has dealt with injuries during the summer and fall, coming on really strong.”

North’s Peter Davis had a big finish to take fourth place in a time of 16:50.5.

“Peter had a nice run today,” coach Tom Dever said. “Caleb [Paauwe] had a nice run today. We’re a little banged up. We’re looking to move on to regionals and semistate and get healthy for those meets. Pretty pleased overall with the efforts.”

No. 19 Terre Haute North won the girls race with 16 points, while runner-up South had 58. Sophomore Lindsay Welker won her first sectional crown with a time of 19:47.9, pulling away from senior Jessi Conley, who recorded a 20:21.4.

The West Vigo girls finished 52 points shy of advancing as a team, but the Vikings were thrilled to get individual qualifiers Shaelyn White, Shelby Sparks and Taylor Bunch.  The IHSAA adjusted the regional-qualifying this year for the top 10 finishers on a non-qualifying team

The Viking trio was thrilled when the announcement was made they had made it. White led the Vikings with a 28th-place finish in 28:56.2. She’s heading to the regional for the third time, but Sparks and Bunch — 29th and 36th respectively — are going for the first time.

“I’m really proud of me and my teammates, I wish the whole team could go with us,” White said. “I didn’t run my best but I tried to push it through the hard weather. It was really cold. Coming into the finish, the wind was pushing pretty hard.”

The Patriots had seven of the top eight finishers.

“I thought it was a pretty good race,” Conley said. “We tried to pack up as much as we could. Our top five was within a good distance of each other so I’m pretty proud of the way we ran.”

North coach Mike Dason, whose team was without Vigo County champion Devon Zeck, Laura Johnson and Kenzie Smokstad due to injury, has more than enough depth to make up for it. Freshman Hannah Bunch was the Patriots’ third runner, her best placing this season for the team.

“I’m so proud of them. Seven out of the top eight, that is unbelievable,” Dason said. “It’s nice to be able to have the mix-up in results, where they’re trading places. That shows the place of what we have. It’s going to make us better and better. It’s so nice to have a sectional champion. Very, very pleased. [Welker] is looking really, really good. We’re looking forward to seeing what she’ll continue to do.”

Shakamak’s boys and girls teams took third place. Two-time SouthWestern Indiana Athletic Conference champion Luke Sweet led the Lakers’ boys with a 12th-place time of 17:40.6.

Former West Vigo standout Zack Whitkanack guided the Lakers to their best team sectional finish since the 1990s, he said.

“Our goal was to get third here today and that’s what we got. We didn’t run quite as well as I thought we might. We’ll get focused and ready for regionals Saturday,” Whitkanack said.

Western Indiana Conference champion Nic Yocom was within striking distance of South’s trio near the 3-kilometer mark of the race, but the Northview senior settled for sixth for the fourth-place Knights coached by Chad Smith.

Aside from Eckert, the fifth-place Vikings packed up well as Brian Becker (30th), Tyson Tolerson (39th), Austin Romanelly (40th) and Blake Benefiel (41st) rounded out the scoring.

The South girls were led by fifth-place Katie Schmidt, who ran a time of 20:48.9.

“Katie’s really stepped up as our No. 1 leader. We’ll need them all to step up,” coach Ed Jarvis said. “We didn’t have our best performance at MIC, but I think they stepped it up today. At least some good momentum going into Saturday.”

The Shakamak girls continued a steady recent tradition under coach Kelley Miller. Senior Aleksey Green led the Lakers, who had three runners in the top 15. Green was ninth, freshman Elizabeth Bredeweg 13th and sophomore Mariah Sweet 15th.

“We were definitely hoping to be top five,” said Miller, whose team won the SWIAC with a total of five runners on its roster. “We had a great race. Ran well.”

The Northview girls took fourth led by 10th-place Ashley Kidwell, while Rockville also advances to the regional led by Bailey Hayes’ 17th-place finish.

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