IHSAA 2018 Cross Country Sectionals Previews

Sectional 1- Hammond Gavit (Riverside Park)

Teams: Calumet, East Chicago Central, Gary West Side, Griffith, Hammond Acad. of Science & Tech., Hammond Bishop Noll, Hammond, Hammond Clark, Hammond Gavit, Hammond Morton, Highland, Lake Central, Munster, Whiting

Girls: The young woman to watch out for in Sectional 1 is Munster's junior Maria Blessing. Maria pulled off an impressive double at the sectional track meet last year, winning both the 1600m and 3200m. Maria has the number one time in the race with 18:46. Her best chance of a challenger comes from her own teammate, Hannah Robbins. These two will be instrumental in Munster's chase to win the team title.

         Munster may have the front runners to claim the sectional title, but Lake Central has the pack. Lake Central's 30 second pr spread will be vital in their chase for the title. Munster's two low sticks will give them an advantage but the Lake Central pack will put pressure on the 3-5 of Munster. If Lake Central can sneak multiple runners ahead of Munster's 3 they could end up holding up the sectional trophy. Highland should advance easily with Whiting, Griffith, and Hammond Gavit all fighting for the final two spots.

Boys: This sectional has one of the top runners in the sophomore class in Highland's Lucas Guerra. Lucas has run a very impressive 15:53 that puts him as the third fastest in the class of 2019. Isaac Betty of Lake Central is the most likely rival for Lucas, having run 16:10. Other individuals to look out for are Logan Russel, and Enrique Romo.

The team race will be a battle between Highland and Lake Central. This will be a fiercely fought battle of the packs. Highland boasts a top 5 that has all dipped under the 17 minute threshold at least once this season. Lake Central has only 2 guys that have been under 17 this year, but have two more just above the 17 minute barrier. If their 5th man can step up they could potentially upset Highland. In a sectional that only has 8 individuals with sub 17 performances all year it could be all about which individuals make big breakthroughs at this meet. Look for Highland's 2-5 to come in very close together. Other teams with strong chances of advancing: Munster, Griffith, East Chicago Central.

Sectional 2: Crown Point (Lemon Lake Park)

Teams: 21st Century Charter School - Gary, Bowman Leadership Academy, Andrean, Crown Point, Lighthouse CPA, Gary Roosevelt, Hanover Central, Hebron, Hobart, Lowell, Merrillville, River Forest

Girls: The individual battle will showcase a great dual between Lowell teammates Katrina James and Jordyn Boyer. Despite being on the same team, James and Boyer have only raced each other twice. The duo split each meeting, with Boyer beating James at the Bob Thomas Invitational and James taking home the NCC  crown. The freshman James does own the faster time this season having clocked in at 18:36. Another athlete to watch out for is Crown Point Junior Maddie Russin. Russin may only have a season PR of 19:14, but she is the defending 800 meter state champion and has a lifetime pr of 18:26 from last year. This race could be anyone's for the taking.

          The team race should be Lowell's to lose. Having 3 runners sub 19:10 on the season is huge at the sectional level. Lowell's entire top 5 has a great shot at placing in the top 10. Crown Point and Hobart will duke it out for second place. Hebron, Merrillville, and Hanover will battle for the two remaining spots to advance. There will be some tight battles to advance in this sectional.

Boys: The boys individual will feature two of the top juniors in the state. Crown Point's Geno Christofanelli and Lowell's Gabriel Sanchez will be in an intense battle for the individual title. These two have separated themselves immensely from their competition.This could turn into one of the state's great individual rivalries for this year and next year.

The team competition will feature Lowell as the favorites. Crown Point can make a run at the team title if they can move their pack up and blend with the Lowell pack. Just like many sectionals, this could come down to a few runners having breakout races. Merrillville should make it to the regional meet comfortably with Hobart, Hanover Central, Hebron, and Andrean will battle for the two remaining spots.