Kane could win a state title Saturday despite being an unknown name at the beginning of the year.
Just like the girls competition, the boys team and individual race is highly up in the air for who will take home the wins.
Also similar to the ladies, there seem to be three, maybe four, potential state champion teams come Saturday afternoon. Going into the season, the Carmel Greyhounds and the Concordia Cadets looked like the two that would be battling back and forth to earn that state title. And it very much looks like that may be the case once again on Saturday. Coaches and fans will be counting runners as they come through attempting to figure out those team scores as best they can.
This season the Concordia team has really shaped themselves into a force to be reckoned with in the state. Their biggest weapon is having individual title contender, Reece Gibson leading their team. The Cadets are currently undefeated and should be looking to continue that once more. But it likely won't be as easy as the rest of their season has been.
The Greyhounds of Carmel tend to always be a team in the conversation for a state title, no matter what else they have done that season. This team knows how to but together a winning roster come the state meet, and this year's group is no different. They're led this year by freshman Kole Mathison, which is pretty uncommon for the 'Hounds, as their top 7 group is tough to make until you are at least a sophomore and usually a junior. Mathison holds a season PR of 15:32.7, which should put him well within being an all-state finisher. Along with Mathison, the Hounds are very good at packing up and keeping the yellow and blue right with each other throughout the whole race. So don't be surprised to see nearly all of their guys finish within the top 40 individuals to assist in that need to score the lowest amount possible.
Despite being a very young team, the Columbus North guys could make some noise on Saturday as well. Throughout the tournament, the have gone undefeated, providing that great confidence boost going into the big show. Led by sophomore Matt Newell, this team is separated by just under a 40 second 1-5 spread. The only thing that could hold this team back is the amount of experience on a grueling LaVern Gibson course.
The individual boys race is likely to be the most exciting and unpredictable race we've seen in recent years. There can be a case made for roughly five different guys to win the title, with a few others that look to right on the cusp. First up, Luke Combs, the man with the fastest time this year, and only sub-15 guy in the field. Since dropping that time though, Combs hasn't really had another opportunity to go that fast besides Nike Twilight and Semi-State. Unfortunately for him though, he took losses at both of those by mere seconds in total.
Then we have the man from the Summit City, Reece Gibson. He's one of a very short list of guys that has beaten Combs this year on the grass. Gibson is one who likes to take things out fast if he can, and that very well may be a part of his game plan come 1pm to attempt to either push the pace early or to gap the rest of the field as best he can for as long as he can.
Alex Frey of North Central has had what could be seen as a breakout cross country season. He won MIC last year, but after that his season wasn't as hot, finishing 157th at the state meet. This season, the lowest he's placed is 5th at the Flashrock Invite. He's recorded five 1st place finishes this season and the big goal for him Saturday will be to make that number go up to six wins. He has a strong finishing speed, which will more than likely be needed on Saturday as there are a few other guys in the field with great kicks.
Speaking of a great kick, Gabe Sanchez, the 2018 runner-up is still in the major conversation despite his first loss coming at semi-state. Last year he even surprised himself at the state meet when he finished 2nd to Cole Hocker. This year though, we didn't see much of the Red Devils star runner, racing just 6 times in Indiana, with half of those races coming during the tournament. He may attempt his same race strategy as it seems he's used often this season and just allow the pack to run the show and then he will pull out that stellar kick when it's really needed.
Dalton Kane, the man with the unknown name until he dropped a monster race at Nike Valley Twilight just under a month ago. He seems to take each race as it goes and is not one to go out and push the pace, but it truly has worked for him. His 2nd big win of the season came just last weekend at semi-state. He's a racer that likes to do just as Sanchez, and let the pack do the work and then finish out strong. If the rest of the field doesn't want him to be right there, the pace will have to pushed early on and they will have to attempt to drop him before that last K. All bets are off if Kane is right there come the final straightaway.
This years state meet may be easily one of the most unpredictable meets in recent history on all ends of the meet. Dozens of different possibilities could happen, but we will soon know who brought their A-game to Terre Haute.