News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

November 18, 2013

Fastest in the Midwest

State champ Bertoli suffers letdown at end, finishes outside top 5

TERRE HAUTE — Jackson Bertoli hung with the top runners from a five-state area Sunday in the Nike Midwest Regional for high school cross country runners at LaVern Gibson Championship Course.

But Bertoli hit a wall after making the final turn as he prepared to make a push from sixth place into the top five. The top five individuals qualified for the Nike Cross Nationals at Portland.

Bertoli, who fought injury during the fall and still managed to win the IHSAA state title two weeks ago, settled for 24th as he crumbled when he crossed the finish line.

“We had a really good week of training this past week and I was feeling really good going into it,” Bertoli said. “My goal going into it was top 5 and move on to the national meet.

“ I was in about sixth place coming on to the home stretch with about 500 to go. Once I hit the homestretch, my hips were just real tired and I just didn’t have any push off really.

“It was a long straightaway for me. Once I realized I wasn’t going to be in the top 5, it just felt like everything shut down mentally and physically.”

While the Hoosier state’s boys single-class champ had a rough day as hundreds of the top runners from Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio and Michigan battled the elements — a drenched course and gusting winds — boys and girls from the Carmel IHSAA state champion teams also proved to be the best of the Midwest.

Kelcy Welch placed third to lead the Carmel Distance Project to a landslide win in the girls championship, with 66 points to 125 for second-place North Naperville.

Taylor Werner, a 15-year-old two-time Class 3 state champion out of Missouri, won the girls race in a time of 18:36. The St. Genevieve, Mo., native held off fellow Missouri runner Jaime Kempfer by six seconds.

“I heard people saying ‘she’s coming’ so I knew I better start kicking it in,” said Werner, a sophomore, who finished third in the Midwest Region a year ago. “Jaime, I really know her well, she’s a really good friend of mine, so I knew she’d be tough.”

Werner knew she wasn’t setting any personal bests Sunday, but she got out front early and had a wide-open view of the soggy grounds.

“I was hoping to get a faster time. I came out to the course this morning and was like ‘OK, this reminds me of nationals last year,” she said. “It’s really hard when you’re out front and there’s no one there to push you. I saw her pushing me, and it was time to pick up the pace.”

Evan Stifel, a product of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, led his AMDG club team to a great day, but Carmel Distance Alliance took the team title with 103 points to 120 for AMDG.

Stifel was the 15th-place runner at the Ohio state meet.

“I felt awesome the whole time. After the first turn, it was so slow because no one wanted to lead. Eventually, someone went and I went with him,” Stifel said. “I was praying to God no one passed me. Just never look back really. Once you look back, you know they can get you. It was awesome. I’m kind of still in shock right now.”

Bertoli, who is committed to run for Indiana University, looks forward to racing in the 12-state Foot Locker Midwest Region meet in two weeks at Kenosha, Wis.,  

“My season’s not over. I’m still training for the Foot Locker Regional up in Kenosha, Wis., so I have that to look forward to. Looking forward to getting back into training and getting some good miles in,” Bertoli said.

Bertoli was joined Braves XC Club members Riley Stohler, Spencer Danielson, Jack Harbaugh and Jayce Farnsworth in helping the

club team take 16th place in the team standings out of 39 teams.

Stohler, a senior who has an offer to run at Indiana State, placed 66th.

“I felt good the first half. I went with the Carmel guys, they kind of dragged me up front,” Stohler said.

“In the middle, there was bodies everywhere. Tough day to run. You jump the last bale [of hay] and there’s like a sinkhole. Came in pretty decent.”

Nike Cross Midwest Regional

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