TERRE HAUTE —
• Terre Haute North — Beginning his 13th season at the helm, coach Mike Dason has guided the Patriots to the IHSAA state finals for the past nine years, including a 12th-place finish in 2012.
“It’s just an expectation here,” Dason mentioned. “Our goal now is to do well at state.”
This doesn’t appear to be a year to bet against them making it 10 in a row at state, even though several key runners have graduated since last season.
“I truly think this can be one of our better seasons,” Dason insisted. “We did lose a lot [to graduation] … but our athletes have stepped it up this year.”
Key returnees are senior Jessi Conley (69th in the state last season), sophomore Lindsay Welker (99th in the state) and senior Mallory Sanders (137th in the state).
“We’ll have a pack of three in the front,” Dason explained. “And we’ll have a pack of about eight after that.”
The next pack he spoke of is likely to consist of senior Laura Johnson, freshman Devon Zeck (from Woodrow Wilson Middle School), freshman Hannah Bunch (from Otter Creek), senior Erin Buckallew, senior Kenzie Smokstad, sophomore Keeleigh Stigall, sophomore Sarah Coletti and sophomore Morgan Morris. Dason added that freshman Janan Zaher (Woodrow Wilson) recently started practicing and could join that tightly bunched group soon.
Another returnee, sophomore Anna Nagy, has a hip injury and is expected to miss the first 3-4 weeks of the season.
“This will be our overall fastest team if you take the average time of everyone on the team,” Dason emphasized.
Ranked No. 19 in the state in the indianarunner.com preseason poll, the Patriots will have their first 2013 meet Aug. 31 in the Franklin Community Invitational.
• Terre Haute South — Eighth-year coach Ed Jarvis, whose Braves finished 22nd in the state last season, hopes to close the gap on Terre Haute North this season, although he realizes the Patriots will be difficult to catch because of their depth of talent.