A pair of Terre Haute South runners battled for the lead in their respective 5K races late Saturday morning at LaVern Gibson Championship Course, leading the Braves to fourth-place high school cross country finishes in Conference Indiana championship meets.
Cael Light was in a two-way battle for first place in the boys race before finishing fourth, while Micah Peals kept herself in the top three of the girls race nearly as long and eventually finished fifth.
"I went out strong, feeling dangerous," Light said after his race. "With about 400 [meters] left, [the other runners] started picking it up and I couldn't keep up. It was super fast."
"I was third, then fourth for awhile," said Peals, leading the Braves with Lily Barton ill. "I didn't want to go all out in the middle . . . but I wish I could've had a little better time."
Light and Matt Gambill, who joined Light on the all-conference team, weren't the only Braves with strong starts. Trey Browne also went out hard for an encouraging finish, and he was probably the difference in the Braves' three-point advantage over Terre Haute North. The Patriots had their sixth runner ahead of South's fourth man and had all-conference performers in Dylan Zeck and Nolan White.
"That was a major mental step, for him to put himself out there like that," said coach Josh Lee of the South boys when asked about Browne. "I thought we finished where we should have.
"We're going in the right direction, we just need to make it happen," Josh Lee continued. "The guys fought hard as the temperature rose."
"We're getting better, we've just got to keep working," said North boys coach Aaron Gadberry, looking toward postseason races. "Northview and South are the favorites [in the upcoming sectional]. We are the underdogs, and we like it."
"Considering we didn't have our No. 1 girl [Barton] here today, we ran very well as a team," said South girls coach Jon Lee. "It was a great race for [Peals, the only all-conference girl from Vigo County]. She's been working on getting out a lot smarter [at the beginning], and that gives her a shot to make a move later in the race."
Coach Jim Cottom of the North girls was frustrated Saturday with his team's lack of consistency.
"We ran better here [at the Gibson course] two weeks ago than we ran today," he said, "but I still think we're getting better."
Team scores — Columbus North 46, Bloomington South 52, Bloomington North 93, Terre Haute South 109, Terre Haute North 112, Southport 129.
Top 12 (all-conference) — Paul Rushton (BN) 16:11, Matt Newell (CN) 16:13, Jack Gillard (BS) 16:16, Cael Light (THS) 16:29, Andrew Shellenberger (Sp) 16:33, Reece Kilbarger-Stumpff (CN) 16:38, Neal Alderson (BS) 16:41, Dylan Zeck (THN) 16:43, Matt Gambill (THS) 16:44, Neil Egyhazi (BS) 16:46, Austin Pulkowski (CN) 16:48, Nolan White (THN) 16:51.
Other South — Trey Browne 17:14, Eric Haworth 18:34, Timothy Smith 18:35, Isaac Hults 19:11, Tate Alcorn 19:43, Ssean Donlan 19:48, Nick Bement 20:02, Nathan McIntyre 20:08, Gavin Oxley 20:08, Matthew Chaney 20:51, Sam Mallory 22:09, Ben Kocher 25:21.
Other North — Anthony Adams 17:43, Ian Gadberry 17:46, Patrick O'Conner 18:17, Alex Ross 18:31, Hayden McCarty 18:43, Braeden Heaton 18:51, Paul O'Conner 18:56, Devin Vanvactor 19:04, Trevor Ley 19:06, Jordan Way 19:07, Colin Trausch 19:14, Isaac Ross 19:18, Nathan Roberts 19:21, Garrett Wrightsman 19:24, Daniel Waltrip 19:50, Josiah Webb 20:22, Logan Nicoson 20:26, Reece Lady 20:30, Evan Adams 20:38, Preston Dowell 20:43, Nate Egan 21:01, Austin Fitzgerald 21:07, George Shagley 21:10, Kayden Keller 21:16, Isaac Kelly 22:00, Braeden Lemmons 33:52.
Team scores — Columbus North 31, Bloomington North 43, Bloomington South 64, Terre Haute South 120, Southport 127, Terre Haute North 172.
Top 12 (all-conference) — Bea Cakmak (BN) 19:30, Brianna Newell (CN) 19:36, Abbey Armstrong (BN) 19:40, Olivia Morlok (CN) 19:51, Micah Peals (THS) 19:52, Mackenzie Barnett (CN) 19:56, Emma Callahan (BS) 19:56, Lily Baker (CN) 20:04, Lily Myers (BS) 20:08, Melissa Mahaffey (BN) 20:10, Aric Tong (CN) 20:14, Jessica Meza (CN) 20:17.
Other South — Ava Rose 21:50, Crispin Ewen 22:32, Malory Yatsko 22:45, Kaya Tanner 23:11, Aeryn Bradley 23:19, Sonya Woolston 23:34, Sophia Ewen 23:46, Kaylee Auterson 24:08, Maddie Klink 25:12, Emma Shober 26:05, Diana Ikanovic 33:00.
North — Lauren Zeck 22:05, Brinlee McCloud 23:31, Emma Holder 23:37, Nahlee Gordon 24:14, Hannah McBride 24:45, Lela Porter 24:49, Dru White 25:17, Haylee Chumley 25:55, Kaylen Gustafson 26:01, Kelsey Torpy 26:50, Kendall Crews 26:56, Emma Lynch 27:22, Kaitlin Burns 28:35, Taylor Lovett 28:36, Hannah Petscher 30:58.