The calendar shows that it is just about the middle of September, and for cross country in Indiana that usually means opportunities for some really fast and competitive races. Over the first several weeks of the season, meets have taken place across the state that have produced some fast times and great competition. On Saturday though, we might see the fastest, most competitive meet of the regular season when teams take the course in Brown County at Eagle Park, for the 2022 Eagle Classic.
The "Meet of the Week" this week is very clearly the Eagle Classic and it very well might be the "Meet of the Year". Before we get into a race by race preview, let's look at the overarching talent and competition that we will see on Saturday.
Looking at the most recent IATCCC Cross Country Poll of the Top 25 teams in both boys and girls, there are 18 ranked teams (out of 50) that will be participating at the Eagle Classic this weekend. Both current #1 teams will be there (Columbus North girls, Carmel boys), and both defending Team State champions will be there (Columbus North girls, Brebeuf Jesuit boys). 4 of the Top 10 girls teams are participating and 6 of the Top 10 boys teams will be competing. Team wise, it is hard fetched to find a more competitive regular season race than this meet this season.
Many top teams also means many of the top individuals in the state will be competing. According to INCCStats, there will be 26 of the Top 40 boys set to compete in the Elite Race, and 16 of the Top 50 on the girls side. In fact, 10 of those athletes were All-State in last year's cross country State Meet (7 girls, 3 boys).
Now that we see how unbelievably stacked and competitive this meet can, and will be, let's take a deeper dive into previewing the 2022 Eagle Classic.
Girls Elite Race
The Columbus North girls remain the #1 team in the State through this point in the season. The only thing is we have yet to see them complete a 5k with their full roster at hand. By all accounts, the Bulldogs looked great at the Rick Weinheimer Classic that was called off just before the 3k mark of the race. Weather pending, North will finally get a chance to show the State where the defending champs are at this point in the year.
The next ranked team on the girls side is the third ranked Carmel Greyhounds. The Hounds placed 2nd at the Hamilton County meet to a strong Noblesville team that had been pushing Columbus North before the meet cancellation last Saturday. The Hounds have a strong front runner in senior Jasmine Klopstad who was All-State last year as a junior and will look to challenge the front of this race.
The individual race looks to come down to a few All-Staters that are also teammates. The Columbus North duo of Julia Kiesler and Lily Baker come in as the highest returning runners from last year's state meet that are competing at the Eagle Classic. If not one of the North duo, then look for freshmen Libby Dowty of Indian Creek who has burst onto the scene with great performances this season including winning the Franklin Invite in August.
Other top individuals that could play into the individual title include Klopstad who was 2nd in last year's elite race, Kaitlyn Stewart of Floyd Central, Lily Myers from Bloomington South, Clara Crain of Edgewood and Brianna Newell of Columbus North.
Boys Elite Race
As we mentioned above there are a plethora of ranked teams that are competing at this meet. To be more precise on the boys side, we will actually see 7 of the Top 12 teams including #1 Carmel, #2 Zionsville, #4 Columbus North, #7 Center Grove, #8 Brebeuf Jesuit, #10 Bloomington North and #12 Bloomington South.
The Greyhounds showed that they are the team to beat so far this year after winning the Hamilton County meet with a dominating 19 points and having all 5 scorers run under the 16 minute mark at White River Elementary in August. Zionsville showed their depth and toughness last week winning handily at the State Preview meet versus 2 other Top 10 ranked teams.
There are certainly some mysteries to be solved though from a couple of these top teams. We have yet to see Center Grove's full lineup of star runners. Whenever the Trojans are able to put their full cards out there, be aware of a big jump to be made for the Center Grove team. The other unseen team is Columbus North who also didn't get to compete in the cancelled Rick Weinheimer Classic. This meet will be a great test for the Bulldogs to see where they stand among some of the state's best teams.
Individually, this may be one of the most competitive meets that can be run in the regular season. There's not just a lot of All-State caliber athletes here, but even State Title contenders and certainly the favorite. Kole Mathison of Carmel takes that favorite label into Eagle Classic as he is coming off running a 15:07 at the Hamilton County meet a couple weeks ago. Floyd Central's Will Conway will certainly have something to say to the favorite label as he enters with the best time of any athlete this season after running 15:06 at the Tiger Run in August.
Other individuals you can expect to see at the front of this race are New Albany's Aidan Lord, Carmel's Anthony Provenzano, North Central's Nate Killeen, Bloomington South's Ryan Rheam, and the Brebeuf Jesuit trio of Cameron Todd, Ezra Burrell, and Matteo Rosio.
Class A and AA Races
The Varsity races will eventually be split into Class A and AA races in results but will run as one varsity girls and varsity boys races. South Knox boys and girls teams are one to keep an eye on as they are one of the best small school teams in the State.
Individuals on Varsity race teams are unknown as runners that are capable of running 19:30 (girls) and 16:30 (boys) are invited to run in the Elite Races.
The Eagle Classic is always an incredibly fun and exciting day of racing for all involved. As long as weather holds off for this week, expect to see some really fast times all over the course and throughout the meet.
A day with many top ranked teams and high caliber individuals, the 2022 Eagle Classic will be can't miss for the biggest cross country fans in Indiana.
Eagle Classic Meet Information
Meet Schedule **Approximate Times**
8:30am Freshman/Sophomore Boys' Race 5K Unlimited
9:00am Elite Girls' Race (Ten Runner Limit) (Any runner not in the elite race who ran under 19:30 this year or last year can run in the elite race.)
9:30am Elite Boys' Race (Ten Runner Limit) (Any runner not in the elite race who ran under 16:30 this year or last year can run in the elite race.)
10:00am Girls' Varsity Race (7 Runners) Class A and Class AA
10:35am Boys' Varsity Race (7 Runners) Class A and Class AA
11:10am Girls' Reserve Race Unlimited
11:45am Boys' Reserve Race Unlimited
***Awards will occur 30 minutes after the conclusion of each race***
Team awards: Trophies will be given to Elite, Varsity Division A and Division AA Champions, Freshman/Sophomore, and Reserve Champions. Ribbons to top five teams in each race.
Individual Awards: Plaques to all race champions Elite, (Division A and Division AA). Medals for places two through ten in the Varsity and Freshman/Sophomore races. Ribbons will be given for places 11 through 25 in the Varsity and Freshman/Sophomore races and 1 through 15 for the Reserve races.
MileSplit Indiana will be on-site covering the Eagle Classic. Follow along on Twitter @milesplitin and check back to the website later in the weekend for video content from the meet.