(Lowell's Karina James) Photo: Shawn Conlon
Indiana Runner's Compete Strong at the Mid-East Cross Country Championships
Indiana's Top 12 seniors from each gender competed as Indiana All-Stars as selected by the Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (IATCCC). Indiana's Boys team, lead by the runner-up finish of LaPorte's Cole Raymond, also finished runner-up to Michigan- losing a heartbreaker 39-40. The girls were led by Lowell's Karina James who finished third overall- again mimicking the team's third place finish.
Head Coach Paige Brunner from Oak Hill High School was very pleased with the team and the day. According to Brunner, "Once again it was an honor for myself, the staff, and the athletes to represent our great state in the Mid-East Cross Country Championships. We had a tremendously accomplished group of athletes this year that competed hard and was awesome to get to know and compete with. It was nice to have better weather conditions than in the last few weeks and even the last few years at this event."
The meet started out very cloudy and cold with temps in the 30's when the athletes arrived to Indian Riffle Park in Kettering, Ohio, Saturday morning. However, just like the racing that was coming, the sun started to peek out and everything got a little warmer before race time. The course was in goo, but not great, shape. The grass was tall and the surface soft, but that did not stop the leaders from running incredible performances.
As the gun went off, it was clear that Michigan's Julia Flynn and Ohio's Grace Hartman were going to push the pace. Indiana's Karina James (Lowell) started out with the leaders but quickly dropped back to the chase. James eventually pulled away from the pack and ran by herself the last kilometer of the race, almost getting in reach of Hartman going up the large hill the second time. James would finish a very strong third place in 18:09 to lead the Hoosier runners.
Addy Wiley from Huntington North was the next Indiana runner. Wiley ran with the large chase pack most of the race before separating late in the race to come home 8th in 18:27. Jamie Klavon (18:48) from Carmel and Bailey Ranta (18:54) from Chesterton were the next Indiana finishers, coming home in 18th and 21st, respectively.
(Huntington North's Addy Wiley) Photo: Shawn Conlon
Carmel's Alivia Romaniuk rounded out Indiana's scoring and led a mass finish of Hoosiers. She was clocked in 19:00, good enough for 23rd place in the talented senior field. Following her were three more Hoosier, Western Boone's Audrey Knoper (24th), Penn's Julie Smith (25th), and Forest Park's Ellie Hall (26th). The trio were timed in 19:07, 19:12, and 19:14.
Indiana's next group was just a few seconds back as they had a strong pack in the meet. Center Grove's Bella Hodges was 30th in 19:22, Cass' Makenna Leicht and Columbus North's Katherine Rumsey were both timed in 19:25 to come home 32nd and 34th, respectively. Hannah Pensyl from Westfield rounded out the Indiana roster. Pensyl finished in 19:57 to finish in 41st place overall.
The team scoring saw Michigan run away with the title. They scored a very low 28 points to easily outdistance Ohio's 60 points. Indiana was a close third with 73 points. Illinois rounded out the scoring with 110 points to finish 4th.
(Team Indiana Girls) Photo: Shawn Conlon
The boys race was fast from the start. Ohio's nationally-ranked William Zegarski started off fast and stayed that way throughout the race, soloing a 15:03 to take the title on the tough, soft course. However, Indiana ran remarkably well after that to almost take the win.
(LaPorte's Cole Raymond) Photo: Shawn Conlon
Cole Raymond, LaPorte, kept a hot pace to pull away convincingly from the rest of the field to not only take the runner-up position, but to set a huge PR with a great time of 15:14 to take second. Not to be outdone, Jasper's Abe Eckman was a very strong fourth place in a fine time of 15:28. He led two teammates across the line with Jack Moore from Northridge and Spenser Wolf from Forest Park just seconds back in seventh and eighth place. Moore was timed in 15:31 and Wolf 15:32.
(Jasper's Abe Eckman) Photo: Shawn Conlon
Indiana's next runner got caught behind a Michigan wave. Goshen's Cole Johnston (15:48) was 19th overall. He led teammates Austin Hall (15:53) from Columbia City who finished one spot behind in 20th and Nolan Satterfield, Hamilton Southeastern, who was 28th in 16:04 to round out the Top 7 Indiana runners.
Drew Hogan from Goshen and Kai Connor from Westfield both came home in 16:19 to finish 34th and 35th, respectively. Bennett Dubois from Hamilton Southeastern and Robert Lohman from Carroll (FW) were 39th and 40th for Indiana. Dubois was timed in 16:21 and Lohman in 16:23. Trevor Monroe from Castle rounded out Indiana's day coming home in 16:33 to finish 42nd overall.
Indiana gave Michigan all they could handle in the team race but due to a different scoring system, they lost 39-40. The Mid-East meet counts all 12 runners in the team scoring, meaning that runners 8-12 also displace runners in the scoring. With that, Michigan's 8th and 9th runners pushed Indiana's 5th place runner to ensure the victory. Ohio was third with a very good score of 48 points. Illinois came home 4th with 135 points.
Coach Brunner was very proud of the team's performance, telling MileSplit Indiana, "Our athletes took advantage and had some very strong performances including 6 combined Top 30 All Time Team Indiana marks including a Top 4 mark by Laporte's Cole Raymond who just flat got after it. The ladies battled for a solid 3rd led by Karina and Addy and the men fought right down to the final seconds for a tough 2nd place. They all collectively ran strong but the top 4 of Raymond, Eckman, Moore, and Wolf were tremendous, all finishing in the Top 8."
Brunner praised the team and the host Ohio committee, including Neal Charske, "While the goal is still to get as many of the initial Top 12 senior state meet finishers as we can on the roster we are thankful and proud of the alternate athletes that stepped up and took advantage of the opportunity. We will continue to do our best to promote the event and get more schools and athletes onboard.