(Lily Baker (left) and Julia Kiesler (right) racing in the 2021 IHSAA XC State finals. The Columbus North duo will try to lead the top ranked Bulldogs to another Conference Indiana title on Saturday. - Photo by Kent Graham)
This weekend features one of the strongest conference meets of the season as the six schools from Conference Indiana convene at Ceraland Park on Saturday. With five ranked teams between girls and boys, this year's edition of the Conference Indiana Championships is sure to provide fast times and entertaining racing.
Columbus North has dominated this conference since 2019, winning both the boys and girls titles in each of the last three years. The Bull Dogs are clear favorites again this year, with a girls team that comes into this weekend ranked atop the coaches poll and a boys team that is ranked third.
Columbus North's closest competition in the girls race will come from Bloomington South. Julia Kiesler and Lily Baker will almost certainly take the top two spots for Columbus North, but Bloomington South's Lily Myers and Jasmine Martoglio are more than capable of finishing third and fourth. After that, it will be a matter of whether Bloomington South can get a couple monster performances to break up Columbus North's 3-5 runners, all of which can be expected to finish in the top ten.
In the boys event, expect to see an incredibly tight race between Bloomington South and Bloomington North for second in the team standings. The two Bloomington schools are almost dead even in every measurable way. Bloomington North edged out Bloomington South for the win at the Harrier Classic early in the season, but last week it was Bloomington South that finished ahead of Bloomington North by a mere ten points at the Brown County Eagle Classic. With a smaller field this week, expect that gap to be even closer and look for several head-to-head races between Cougar and Panther runners out on the course.
Just like the girls race, you can expect to see two Columbus North runners at the front of the pack in the boys race. Bull Dogs Clayton Guthrie and William Russell have both run under 15:30 this season, and are the only two runners in Conference Indiana to have done so.
Racing from Ceraland Park will get underway with the girls race at 9:00 AM and the boys race will follow at 9:30. Awards will be at 10:45.