News From Terre Haute, Indiana

High School

October 26, 2013

Bertoli wins Brown County Semistate, leading three Braves in top 10

North girls take third behind Welker's seventh-place finish

NASHVILLE, IND. — Saturday was a Wide-World-of-Sports kind of day for Wabash Valley competitors at the Brown County Semistate for high school cross country.

The thrill of victory was easy to spot, as Terre Haute South’s Jackson Bertoli completed his comeback from an injury-plagued regular season to cross the finish line first, thrusting his fists in celebration.

With Riley Stohler and Spencer Danielson also in the top 10, the South boys qualified for the state finals as a team, as did the Terre Haute North girls. Bloomfield’s Alli Workman will also come to LaVern Gibson Championship Course next Saturday as an individual qualifier.

The agony of defeat, unfortunately, was a little more prevalent, and again it was Terre Haute South that personified it most.

Six teams qualify for the state finals, and South’s girls were eighth, a mere eight points away from their fourth straight berth at the Gibson course.

If that wasn’t enough anguish for coach Ed Jarvis, senior Katie Schmidt — who stepped up as team leader because of injury problems for four-year star Nikki Thiede — was the 11th-best runner among individuals whose teams didn’t advance, and only the top 10 go on. Schmidt was deprived of a chance to compete next week by two-tenths of a second.

Jarvis isn’t a demonstrative coach by nature, but he couldn’t hide his frustration and disappointment.

“First off all,” he said, “I’ve got to emphasize how good these seniors [Schmidt, Sami Holmes, Nicole Howe and Thiede] have been this year. They’ve been phenomenal for four years, actually, and it’s not fair their last two years were basically without Nik.

“We have our two and three [runners Saturday] coming back next year,” Jarvis continued, “and we had some [personal records’ today. We just came up a little short.”

The “not fair” card could have been played in a couple of other instances Saturday as well.

Terre Haute North’s boys finished 15th, doomed to ending their season when Peter Davis — their No. 1 runner, including at the Bedford Regional a week earlier — learned that the illness he’d been trying to run through was pneumonia.

And then there are the boys from Northview, for whom “not fair” has been the case all season after learning coach Chad Smith was suffering from ALS.

“It’s not been a good year,” senior leader Nic Yocom of the Knights agreed Saturday.

When Yocom said that, it was obvious he wasn’t referring to his team’s performances.

“We were happy to make it to semistate; we hadn’t been here since 2001,” Yocom said, “and we won the [Western Indiana Conference], and we hadn’t done that in a while.”

Honoring their coach with one more weekend of competition wasn’t in the cards for the Knights on Saturday, however, as they finished 13th. “We wanted to make it to state really bad,” Yocom noted.

Bertoli undoubtedly had “not fair” thoughts in his mind a few times this fall too, which made Saturday’s triumph so sweet.

“This season has been a rough one, battling injuries and obstacles,” he agreed shortly after his race, “so it’s moments like [crossing the finish line first] that you realize it all pays off.”

“It’s phenomenal what he’s done,” South coach Kyle Walsh agreed. “He’s been cross-training and building his mileage back up ... and today he beat some really, really good guys, and he made it look comfortable.”

Bertoli was in the lead pack near the halfway point of the race, but when the leaders emerged from the woods at the northwest corner of the course he was ahead to stay.

“The guys from Columbus North and Bloomington South took it out hard,” Bertoli said. “The plan was, between the 3K and the 2-mile mark, if I was feeling good, to throw it down there, and once I got there I was ready to execute.”

Stohler stayed in the lead pack for a fourth-place finish, and Danielson finished ninth.

“Obviously I’m thrilled with the top three,” Walsh said. “Three in the top 10, like we set out to do.

“Levi [Elrod, the fourth Brave on Saturday] made a step forward, and if he runs like that next weekend we’ll have five really tough runners going to state.”

Jack Harbaugh, normally South’s fourth man, “got caught in some deep mud and lost a few places,” Walsh added, “but he kept fighting.” Jayce Farnsworth and Ryan Hannaford were first and third among the freshmen in the race too, Walsh was happy to report.

Columbus North’s Mackenzie Caldwell, who holds the course record at Brown County, won the girls race by 28 seconds, and teammate Sierra Lax placed second.

Lindsay Welker placed seventh to lead the North girls, who were 17 points behind runner-up Bloomington South.

“Very pleased with Lindsay. She is coming on so strong,” coach Mike Dason said after the race, “and it’s nice to have four girls under 20 [minutes].

“They all had very good races today, especially Kenzie Smokstad, and we’re glad to keep moving on,” Dason continued. “Now we get to run our own course ... and the tighter we pack, the better we finish [at the state finals].”

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