There were some close finishes for positions in the Terre Haute North Sectional for high school cross country Saturday at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course.
But none of them involved first place.
On a chilly morning, both Northview teams beat second-place Terre Haute South by exactly 20 points to claim the boys (34-54) and girls (30-50) championships. Each Northview squad had five of the top 10 individuals.
For the Knights' boys, this was their third straight sectional title. For their girls, this was their first sectional crown since 2003.
Individually, South junior Cael Light won his second straight sectional title, beating teammate Matt Gambill by 4.2 after coasting most of the final straightaway of their 5,000-meter trek. In the girls 5,000-meter race, Northview sophomore Evie Noel led from start to finish, putting 24.5 seconds between her and runnerup Jacy Collins of Shakamak.
"We were looking to get our whole team involved in the race," Light explained. "We were going to take it out a little slower. Then Dylan Zeck from [Terre Haute] North went out a little fast, so we had to go with him. And at about the mile [mark], we realized this strategy wasn't going to work. So we ran our own race and we did what we had to do. Unfortunately, we came up short [as a team]."
"I just came in knowing I wanted to win today," said Noel, who placed third in this same race in 2018. "I knew I had to get out fast. Basically, my plan was just to stay fast the whole time."
The top five teams in each race will move on to the Bedford North Lawrence Regional next Saturday. For boys, that would be Northview, South, North, Sullivan and Shakamak. For girls, advancing are Northview, South, Shakamak, Clay City and North.
"The guys did exactly what they needed to do," Northview boys coach James Ground pointed out.
He added that his runners were not fazed by the 41-degree temperature at the start of the race.
"That's one of the things I love about this sport," Grounds said. "You can have to run in 90-degree heat one day and 40 degrees a few days later. You gotta have everyone ready for that."
"This is an absolutely fantastic team," Northview girls coach Conor Strain told the Tribune-Star. "Some of these girls have been running together for the past four or five years, through middle school and even before that. It's good to see them win a race like this. They did well with what they were supposed to do."
Strain praised Noel, relaying how he told her at the mile mark to trust herself and "not look back," then she was going to win.