BEDFORD, Ind. —
hen the question common to two of your high school cross country coaches concerns whether their teams have peaked early, you’ve probably had a pretty good day, and that was the case for Vigo County athletes Saturday at the Bedford North Lawrence Regional.
And, for the record, the answer both coaches gave was “No.”
“We’re still without our third and fourth runners,” coach Mike Dason of the Terre Haute North girls said incredulously when asked the peak question — although the other Patriots aren’t running like they’re saving spots for anyone. On Saturday, North had two of the top three runners, four of the top six, and all seven ahead of at least one top-five runner on every other team in the field.
The Patriots, ranked seventh going into the meet, were expected to win, however — although probably not in such dominating fashion. Terre Haute South’s boys were another story.
“People were predicting us third, or maybe second,” Jackson Bertoli of the Braves said after his race but before the scores had been revealed, “but I think we got the upset today [against eighth-ranked Bloomington South]. We had six ahead of their four.”
The South runner was right on both counts. The 14th-ranked Braves had six of the top 14 runners overall, in fact, and their seventh man beat a scoring runner from all but the runner-up team.
They too can do better, their coach said.
“I think we’ve got a lot more left,” Kyle Walsh said. “We’re still training very hard. I was wondering if we could overcome tired legs today … I think we’ll be ready for [personal records] at the semistate.”
Also advancing to Brown County next Saturday are the girls from South — who finished third, ahead of all the unranked teams — and the boys from North, who were fifth led by Justin Clapp’s 12th-place finish.
West Vigo’s girls placed ninth; Northview was eighth in the girls race and sixth in boys competition, North’s closest pursuer as it turned out; Shakamak’s boys were eighth; and Sullivan’s girls and Clay City’s boys both placed 10th.
It was a good day for Greene County runners too. None of the Shakamak boys will be going on as individuals, but Savannah Turner of the Lakers will be after placing eighth in the girls race. Joining her will be Alli Workman of Bloomfield (11th) and Hannah Resler of Eastern Greene (13th), and Linton freshman Janzen Franklin didn’t advance but, in 25th place, was the top boys runner not on a contending team.
Northview’s Nic Yocom is moving on after a strong sixth-place finish in the boys race, while other individuals from the Wabash Valley who competed were Bailey Hayes of Rockville, Kelsey Wright of Clay City, Dean Danner of North Central, Parker Ramsey of Bloomfield and Ethan Sparks of Owen Valley.
Bertoli won the boys race, gradually pulling away to beat Bloomington South’s Kyle Burks by nearly 10 seconds. Good preparation for the following week, he indicated.
“I just wanted to come out and get a win for my team,” Bertoli said, “and stay comfortable in the process.”
“It’s amazing,” Walsh said as he contemplated the possibility of his team being the regional champion. “The guys really stepped up today and followed the game plan exactly as it was drawn up. From one through seven, each one executed — from the start, through the midpoint, and then kicking like crazy.”
North’s Chanli Mundy was runner-up to Bloomington South’s Alex Warzyniak in the girls race. Mundy the competitor wasn’t all that happy, but Mundy the team leader was thrilled.
“I’m a little disappointed [at being second],” she admitted, “but I’m even more excited for the team. We came out and did what we needed to do. We came in as the favorite, but we still had to run … and stay focused.”
“Oct. 27 [the state finals] is the date we’re looking at for [Mundy],” Dason said. “The big deal is this team, and the big deal is doing work … I’m ecstatic. I’m so excited the way everybody finished and the way everybody pushed.”
North had five runners in the top 15 — “two of them freshmen [Lindsay Welker and Anna Nagy],” Dason pointed out — and its missing runners have given other Patriots some well deserved time on the course. “I’m happy for Erin Buckallew for working so hard to be in the top group,” Dason added.
South’s girls aren’t quite in the position yet where they can add new runners to the lineup for injury relief, although time off wasn’t much help to top Brave Nikki Thiede earlier in the season.
Gutting her way through the season with a variously diagnosed foot ailment, Thiede isn’t at her best right now, but still good enough to lead her team in its own state-finals quest.
“I’m not feeling that great,” she said after the race, tears in her eyes and smiling through gritted teeth, “but I knew I had to do it for the team. There’s only two more weeks [to the season]; I think I can make it.”