Luke Combs currently holds the top time in the state with a 14:56
As we enter week two of tournament time, with regionals this weekend, all thoughts are shifting to who will win the team and individual titles this season. Last year we had the clear individual favorites with Cole Hocker and Emma Wilson. The team battle was a little up in the air, but there were still the favorites coming in, with Carmel and FW Carroll ultimately winning. This year though looks to be a little different though as there doesn't seem to be an overwhelming favorite for any of the four titles up for grabs in just under a month.
If we talked a few weeks ago, there would seem to be a clear favorite for the boys title, but as teams have started to start really racing heavier that gap is getting smaller and smaller. FW Concordia has looked like the team all season to beat with a strong frontrunner in Reece Gibson and then a strong 2-5 bringing it home. But the past few weeks the greyhounds of Carmel have started to really shape up their roster to the group we may see at state. If they put the right 7 on the line on Nov. 2nd, the hounds have the potential to be unstoppable. Based on season best times, the hounds could place their whole 7 in before Concordia gets four in. Having a pack that tight is one of the best assets they have right now. After these two, the spread begins to get a little further apart with Fishers, Noblesville, Bloomington South and Columbus North fighting for those other top spots.
With a quick look at just times on the season, the immediate thought goes to that Luke Combs should be the man to beat on the grass. But that may not be the case when it comes Nov. 2nd. A small handful of guys all look to be forming into top shape and have shown they have the ability to win a state title.
The seniors of Reece Gibson and Gabe Sanchez both have looked good this season with potential to be on top come the awards at state. Gibson holds a season best time of 15:18 and has only placed lower than first, twice this season, once at Flashrock and the 2nd time at the Taylor University Invite. Now Sanchez hasn't raced all that much this season, but he has gone undefeated thus far. His biggest win coming at New Prairie, winning by 15 seconds over Caleb Williams. He also won a 3 mile race in IL early in the season with a 14:46.81, which converts roughly to a 15:17 5K.
Those three guys along with Caleb Williams, Alex Frey, and potentially Jack Kovach if he's fully healthy by state could all be in the heavy mix to win the title, along with multiple other names in the field.
On the girls team side, it looks like we could be seeing a similar battle to last year between FW Carroll and Zionsville. Both of these teams have looked very strong all year, with one match up between them and Carroll earning a major win with 58pts and Zionsville 3rd with 95pts, Carmel took 2nd. Based on the most recent INCCStats rankings, there is just one point separating Zionsville (114) and FW Carroll (115). These two teams are pretty evenly matched throughout nearly every aspect. Both teams feature a strong frontrunner and then a good 2-5 packed up within just under a minute of each other on average. Both teams kicked off the tournament with pretty easy wins on the team and individual sides.
We can't count the greyhounds of Carmel out of the discussion completely though. But there is a slight gap between them and the top end at this point. For all but one meet this season, the Lady Hounds have been racing without their number one, Phoebe Bates. Now with her in the mix and fully healthy, this team could be right up in the mix to win the title as well. But without her, they may be in trouble.
The individual side of things look to be locked down early in the season, with Erin Strzelecki, the top returner from last year's state meet, running a 17:24.4 at the Marion Invite. She's been relatively consistent the rest of the season this far, with her slowest time being a 17:53.6 at the West Noble Invite, which converted down to a 17:37. After her there seems to be a small group of about five other girls that could have a real shot at the title as well.
Edgewood junior, Annalyssa Crain has been making major strides this season, popping out a majority of sub-18 times on the season, with her best time coming at WIC with a 17:35.20 winning by nearly 2 minutes. The sophomore class right now is looking like one that could do some big things in the next two years, Karina James and Madeline Keller have consistently been at the front of the pack all season and both are just off of that sub-18 mark. Keller ran an early season 18:22.7 at Lavern Gibson and that added experience on the state course will likely prove vital in the coming weeks. James also got some early season practice on the state course, running an 18:29.60 the first weekend of the season.
Junior, Zoe Duffus, has really taken in her role as frontrunner for the Chargers this season really well, getting back to the freshman Duffus that had most of us wowed by her and running in the mid-18 minute range most of the season now. Her placement in the coming weeks will be an important part of how her team does in terms of reclaiming their title.
Even with just four 5K races on the season thus far, Zionsville's Katelyn Wasson has proven she can race up front and be a threat to anyone in her path. Her three 5K races before sectionals, all had her against some good competition and that experience may come in handy on Nov. 2nd. Just like Duffus, Wasson's placement at state could make the difference between first and second as a team.