TERRE HAUTE —
Chasing Bloomington South.
That’s what the Terre Haute South boys and Terre Haute North girls, both ranked among the top 20 high school cross country teams in the state, could be doing today in the Bedford North Lawrence Regional.
The 5-kilometer boys race will start at 10:30 a.m., with the 5K girls race to follow at 11:10.
In the boys race, there will be three ranked teams battling for the championship — No. 3 Bloomington South, No. 7 Terre Haute South and No. 12 Bloomington North.
“We’re the defending [regional] champions, but Bloomington South has raced on another level this year,” Terre Haute South boys coach Kyle Walsh pointed out. “But we feel like we’re coming together at the right time to challenge them.”
Bloomington South, led by individual winner Kyle Burks (15 minutes, 48.87 seconds), captured the BNL Sectional title Tuesday and Bloomington North came in second.
On the same day in the Terre Haute North Sectional at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course, Terre Haute South easily outpointed the runner-up Patriots for the team crown. The other regional qualifiers were Shakamak, Northview and West Vigo, plus high-placing individuals from other schools.
The Braves were led, as usual, by the one-two-three punch of seniors Jackson Bertoli, a three-time state finalist in cross country, and Riley Stohler and junior Spencer Danielson. Bertoli’s sectional-winning time was 16:23.0.
Walsh said Bertoli, who also finished first in the 2012 regional at Bedford, is building toward the state finals in two weeks and is primarily concerned with helping South score as few points as possible today.
“Basically, both of our teams [Terre Haute South and Bloomington South] have one of the best trios in the state,” Walsh emphasized. “The difference will come down to the fourth and fifth runners and they’ve had that advantage on us this year.”
Walsh mentioned that junior Levi Elrod, who had the flu and didn’t run in the sectional, will rejoin the Braves’ lineup today. He’ll replace senior Matt Barley.
Walsh said that even though Bloomington South has finished ahead of his squad three times this season, only one of those was with Bertoli running.
From the girls’ perspective, Bloomington South again will be the highest-ranked team participating in today’s regional. The Panthers are 16th in the latest poll, with Terre Haute North close behind at 19th.
“Bloomington South is our competition and we’re going to go down there to beat them,” Terre Haute North girls coach Mike Dason insisted. “I have high expectations that we can win this regional. The girls expect nothing less. We’ve had excellent workouts and we’re looking forward to a great meet.”
The top five teams from Tuesday’s sectional at the Gibson course, thus qualifying for the regional, were Terre Haute North, Terre Haute South, Shakamak, Northview and Rockville. High-placing individuals from other schools also get to compete today.
North sophomore Lindsay Welker earned the individual sectional championship, finishing in 19:47.9, and senior teammate Jessi Conley placed second. Dason said both have a chance to place in the top five today.
Although Bloomington South captured the team title in the BNL Sectional, the first-place individual was Bloomington North senior Kate Raphael (18:46.68). Bloomington South’s top runner was senior Alexandra Warzyniak, who placed second in 18:52.90.
“They’re a team a lot like we are,” Dason assessed, comparing Bloomington South to his Patriots. “They have a tight pack. … Our advantage is we’ve already beaten them [at the Franklin Community Invitational].”
Dason noted that senior Kenzie Smokstad will rejoin the Patriots’ lineup today after sitting out the sectional Tuesday. She’ll likely replace sophomore Anna Nagy.
Admission to any of the state regionals today is free for fans.
The top five teams and top 10 individuals not on those teams from the BNL Regional will advance to the Brown County Semistate on Oct. 26.