Team-wise, the Northview boys and Bloomington North girls appear to be favored to win the Bedford North Lawrence Regional for high school cross country Saturday.
Both races will be 5 kilometers.
In the latest boys state rankings, Northview (11th), Bloomington South (13th), Bloomington North (14th) and Terre Haute North (24th) are the four top-25 teams among the 10 competing Saturday. In the girls state rankings, Bloomington North (ninth), Northview (16th) and Bloomington South (19th) are the three top-25 teams among the 10 in action.
Northview's boys and girls squads each won sectional titles last Saturday at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course. The Knights' girls were led by individual winner, freshman sensation Gnister Grant, who coasted to the finish line with a huge lead.
But she'll be seriously challenged by BNL Sectional champion Annalyssa Crain, a senior from Edgewood. Crain won the Twilight Cross Invitational two weeks ago at the Gibson course, with Grant coming in sixth (about 46 seconds behind Crain).
“Based upon how our girls looked in practice this week, I'm confident we'll run well enough to move onto semistate [next Saturday at Brown County]," said Northview girls coach Tim Rayle, who will need a top-five finish from his squad to accomplish that goal.
"It will take our best race of the season to challenge the Bloomington schools for the regional title. Our girls are definitely capable of winning it, but it's going to take all seven runners being at the top of their game. . . . We're looking for a top-five individual finish for Gnister. If she's having a great race, we can expect a top-three finish for her.“
Bloomington North was the BNL sectional team titlist.
For the boys, Terre Haute South junior Matt Gambill will come in with the fastest time of all sectional runners (16 minutes, 9.7 seconds). He'll expect a strong challenge from teammate Cael Light and Terre Haute North's Dylan Zeck, who were close behind him in the sectional, as well as BNL sectional champion Nolan Bailey, who has defeated Gambill once this season.
But Gambill was quick to point out that he's beaten Bailey, a senior from Bloomington North, every other time.
"Going into it, I'm really optimistic because our times compared to the Bloomington kids' times are really good," Gambill told the Tribune-Star. "For LaVern Gibson, those times [of him, Zeck and two-time past sectional winner Light] are really fast, especially for the sectional."
Gambill mentioned that Light has been dealing with an oblique injury this season, but they think he may be starting to recover and regain his old form.
If Gambill, Light and the rest of the Braves post fast times, Gambill believes South can be among the five teams that advance to the semistate.
"We're in a good position right now to beat Terre Haute North," Gambill went as far to say.