News From Terre Haute, Indiana

High School

September 2, 2012

Terre Haute South's Jackson Bertoli sets personal record, takes second at State Preview

TERRE HAUTE — There were no Wabash Valley winners Saturday morning at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course — although you wouldn’t have to stretch far to get one — but that doesn’t mean the annual Terre Haute Savings Bank Invitational wasn’t a high school cross country success.

For one thing, nobody drowned.

Although the course couldn’t be called dry, the footing was generally good. Although most of the races were run in precipitation, the start of the boys varsity race was the only time that precipitation was much more than a drizzle.

The anticipated deluge held off, in other words, good news for the teams that traveled a long way — two schools coming from neighboring states — for some good competition. Four top-20 teams from the Indiana girls coaches’ poll and seven top-20 boys teams participated.

“At the beginning [of our race] we started getting more rain,” noted Terre Haute South’s Jackson Bertoli, “but once you get in the race you have enough adrenaline [to overcome the conditions].”

Bertoli must have had enough adrenaline, because he finished ahead of all the Indiana boys in the race — although a little more than five seconds behind Jacob Thompson of Louisville Holy Cross. The Valley’s state champion for the day, if you will.

“Going into the race I knew [Thompson] was probably the only guy who was on a different level than me,” Bertoli said after his second-place finish. “Some of the best guys in the state were out here … and I had a really solid run, close to a 20-second [personal record] on this course.”

“[Bertoli] impresses me more and more each week,” said South coach Kyle Walsh. “He ran a very smart first half of the race, he found the position he wanted to be in, and when it was gut-check time he stepped up and ran strong all the way through to the finish line.”

The South junior led the 14th-ranked Braves to seventh place as a team, with third-ranked Valparaiso having a dominating first-place performance followed by 20th-ranked Indianapolis Cathedral, fifth-ranked Hamilton Southeastern, 11th-ranked Brebeuf, 19th-ranked Homestead and 12th-ranked Bedford North Lawrence.

Terre Haute North finished 12th, with Greencastle 16th and Northview 19th.

Top-ranked Carmel had three of the top four runners in the girls race — including sophomore twins Haley and Kelsey Harris — to easily hold off sixth-ranked Hamilton Southeastern for first place. Ninth-ranked Center Grove finished third, ahead of a fourth-ranked North team that was competing without two of its best runners, while South was seventh, Greencastle 12th and Northview 19th.

“Chanli [Mundy, North’s team leader] is sick and Katie Loebker has an ankle injury,” coach Mike Dason said after the race, “so I’m very pleased with how the other girls did. We’re all sick … but on this course, in this weather, I was very pleased with our progress.”

Taking her turn at leading the Patriots on Saturday was junior Laura Johnson, who has had her own injury issues in the past but who stepped willingly into the lead role for this race.

“We’ve been nursing her along, so I’m very pleased with how she’s been coming through,” Dason said. “She kicked butt today.”

“It felt pretty good,” Johnson said. “I really liked the weather and I liked the team doing good to stay in a pack and help each other.

“We worked together. There’s definitely room for improvement, but overall I’m happy with the run and how the girls did … it’s nice to run without pain.”

Johnson wasn’t the top runner among the Terre Haute girls, however. That honor went to South’s Nikki Thiede, who placed 17th — even though she didn’t have a familiar rival helping her gauge her progress.

“The run went pretty well. There was a lot of good competition,” Thiede said. “You try to put it in perspective of how you’ll do at state.”

Thiede said she usually tries to measure herself with Mundy. “I always know she’ll be good competition, so I missed not having her out there today,” the South runner said.

The Braves’ team finish was disappointing in only one respect, according to coach Ed Jarvis.

“We were trying to get ahead of [Evansville] Memorial [potentially a key postseason foe] and they got us today,” he said. “But we’ve been working hard, and I hope next week at Brown County [both North and South will send both their teams to the Eagle Classic next Saturday] we’ll go out and do really well.”

South’s boys team showing was also mitigated by some runners — Logan Hambrock and Riley Stohler — who weren’t available.

“To place as well as we did while missing two key players is fairly exciting,” Walsh said, noting the work Spencer Danielson did as the Braves’ No. 2 runner for the day. “Our goals are set more for October, when we want to see everyone healthy.”

Coach Tom Dever had similar thoughts about his North boys.

“We’re using these meets early to build to the future,” Dever said, “and I think we’re improving each week. Justin Clapp had a nice run today, and Peter Davis was right behind him [as North’s top two runners]. And when I look at our times today and compare them to how we ran in this race a year ago, I think I’ll be pretty pleased.”

The small-school races were dominated by Mt. Zion of Illinois’ Apollo Conference, with Park Tudor taking second each time.

West Vigo’s girls, with top-10 finishes by Acetha Tolerson and Taylor Bunch, were third and Clay City’s Kelsey Wright ran in second place for most of that race before finishing fourth, the same place her Eels finished.

In the boys race, Eric Johnson and Luke Sweet ran fifth and sixth to lead Shakamak to third place, while North Central’s Dean Danner was seventh, Clay City’s Parker Ames eighth, and Jonah Eckert and Derek Braun led West Vigo to a fifth-place team showing.

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High School
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