Preview: Brown County Eagle Classic

Coach Abraham of Brown County High School talks Brown County XC course and Eagle Classic (starting at 2:43)

BROWN COUNTY -- After a week of high temperatures and difficult racing conditions all across the state, we have reached the point in the season where times will begin to drop.

The weather is set to cool off considerably, but the competition is just heating up.

This Saturday, Sept 7, 120 teams will compete in seven different races at Brown County State Park as a part of the annual Brown County Eagle Classic. For many, the event is a preview of the sectional, regional, and semi-state course they will see later in the year. But for us, it is an early look at state title contenders on both the boys and girls side.

Girls Individual - Elite race, 9:00 a.m.

Last year's elite race featured three girls dipping under the 18-minute barrier. Phoebe Bates (11) of Carmel High School won the event in a seasons best 17:39.5. She has already bested that mark this year and comes in poised to make a statement with the win.

She won't be alone up at the front. Edgewood High School's Annalyssa Crain (10) finished just 20-seconds back from Bates in last year's meet and currently holds the third fastest time in the state this season. These two may be battling it out in Terre Haute later this year, but Saturday's meet should provide a small tease of what is still to come.

Look for Pike High School standout Elizabeth Stanhope (12) to make her bid for the win as well. She is coming off a victory at the Lafayette Harrison Invite and is eager to compete after missing this race last year.

Boys Individual - Elite Race, 9:30 a.m.

There were some fireworks at the 2017 edition of this race with two boys running under 15:10. One of those, Evansville Memorial's Matthew Schadler, is gone to graduation, but Austin Haskett (12) of Edgewood returns to defend his title.

Haskett has not raced yet this season, but he has proven in the past to be ready for this stage. He will likely be challenged by teammates Ian Shaw (12) and Wil Zinkan (11) of Bloomington South High School. Shaw holds the fourth fastest time for an Indiana high school boy this season while Zinkan has consistently been nipping at his heels.

The one big question mark heading into the race is Christian Academy's Caleb Futter (12). Futter finished third at this meet a year ago and is still a favorite to challenge for a state title in the fall. But he struggled at the state preview race on Sept 1, managing just a 15th place finish in a time of 16:44.

Look for Futter to bounce back here and make for an exciting finish for the second year in a row.

Girls Team

Five of Indiana Milesplit's top-10 teams will be competing in the girls elite race.

Led by Bates's low stick up front, the Carmel Greyhounds of Carmel High School are set to defend their title again. They scored a meet low 73-points a season ago and graduated only one runner from their scoring five.

But just like Bates will be challenged for the win, the Greyhounds face some stiff competition in the form of the Pike High School Red Devils.

Led by Elizabeth Stanhope, the Red Devils will compete in the girls elite race for the first time in school history. They placed second to a very good West Lafayette team in the Lafayette Harrison Invite and will look to prove they can hold their own against elite competition.

Boys Team

Just like the girls race, the boys elite field features five top-10 teams from Milesplit's database and four of the top five overall.

Earlier this season, Ian Shaw told Indiana Milesplit that, "we know we have a shot at winning state." That "shot" can become a lot more realistic this weekend if Shaw and his teammates from Bloomington South High School can take home the title. Last year, the Panthers ran away with the meet scoring just 82 points to Bloomington North's 117. A one through five split of under a minute helped in that effort, and they will seek to duplicate that again this year.

The only team with a tighter scoring split were the Carmel Greyhounds of Carmel High School who took third behind Bloomington North. Just 13 seconds separated one through five, but a lack of real firepower inside the top 20 really held them back.

This year, they along with Bloomington North High School and Columbus North High School will look to unseat the Panthers for the overall team title. Whoever comes away with the victory may be early favorites to hoist the stat finals trophy this fall.