IHSAA State Meet Preview: Girls Team Race

(The Girls Team Title Battle between Noblesville and Columbus North is set to take place Saturday at LaVern Gibson in Terre Haute. -Graphic by Owen Fink)

IHSAA State Meet Girls Team Preview

State Meet week is here and anticipation is building for the 416 runners that advanced to the state finals either on a team or as individuals. MileSplit Indiana is previewing every aspect of the IHSAA State finals races throughout the week ahead of the State Meet on Saturday. Today, we preview the girls team race that could see a battle for the ages for the Team State Championship and a bunched up group of teams fighting for podium spots as athletes take the course at LaVern Gibson.

The main draw for the girls team race will be the highly anticipated battle between the top two ranked teams. There will also be a fight for the remaining podium spots as well as many teams contending for Top 10 finishes on what could be an historic day.

Here's how the girls team race could play out with trophies and medals on the line!

Team Title Favorites

Columbus North - 38th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (2 times, most recently in 2021)

The defending state champions are back at the state meet and are in position to once again leave as state champions. After a close battle last year between them and Carmel. It looks as if this year will be another close battle between them and Noblesville.

Columbus North gets off to as good of a start as you can have. Seniors Julia Kiesler and Lily Baker are both contending for top 7 spots in the meet and that might mean the two of them score no more than 4 points combined. The front running has not been an issue for the Bulldogs this season.

North will need their back end scorers to do just as they did last year, run well at the right time and Coach Sluder has them primed to do just that. Brianna Newell was 26th last year at the state meet and could still contend for a top 25 spot again. It is a bit up for grabs as to who will round out the scoring for the Bulldogs. With a strong front three, if North can get their 4-5 in just close enough to Noblesville's pack, they make it extremely tough to be beat and could walk away with the team title trophy yet again.

Noblesville - 13th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 3rd (2006)

This is a day that Noblesville has probably been waiting a full year for. The Millers were primed to place high on the podium last year before squeaking into the fifth spot by just a point over Homestead. They return every single athlete that ran in the state meet and wow have they been great this season in hopes of locking up their first ever cross country state championship.

The strength of this Noblesville team has been their pack. They are 8 strong (and remember only 7 can run) but also have a solid front runner in junior Nadia Perez. Perez is the most likely Miller to crack the top 20 on Saturday, but the matter of fact is that Noblesville may just have the rest of their scoring athletes place in the 30's and that is lethal when going for a State championship.

They key to the Miller's title hopes is how far up will that pack need to be. They lose significant points to Columbus North on the 1 and 2 runners. They will get a lot of it back on the fifth runner whoever that may be. So, if the 3rd and 4th runners for Noblesville can keep the pace with that of North, they will put themselves in the best position to come away as team champions.

It is incredibly hard to project exactly what will happen here with these teams. Most measurements see the Bulldogs and Millers at even which is why we have them as co-title favorites. This could be one of the best team finishes we've seen in recent years.

Podium Contenders

Carmel - 42nd State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (19 times, most recently in 2020)

The Greyhounds were team runner-ups last year to Columbus North by a slim margin. Carmel returns senior Jasmine Klopstad who has been as consistent as it gets at this level. The rest of the Greyhound pack is not as far up as we might be used to from Carmel teams, but they are still very deep. That depth and their apparent front runner should keep the Hounds on the podium for the 19th straight season.

Hamilton Southeastern - 11th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 2nd (2013)

Hamilton Southeastern has a solid front runner in junior Maggie Powers who has run at an all-state level all season. If the Royals want to achieve their team goals as well they will need strong races from the rest of their pack. The remainder of the podium contenders are strong, but the Royals won't go down with out a fight as they try to make the podium for 2nd consecutive year.

Homestead - 22nd State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 3rd (2016)

The Spartans are a very intriguing and maybe even underrated team. They are led by one of the state's best in Addison Knoblauch who placed 5th last year at state and was runner-up at the New Haven semi-state last week. Elise Peckinpaugh and Lauren Saddington give Homestead a great top three to score low at the state meet. The Spartans are in a great position to get on the podium for the first time since 2016. We see that very possible with solid races from their four and five.

North Central - 19th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 3rd (1989)

The Panthers are ready for a little redemption. A year ago, they finished 11th at the state meet in what maybe felt like a disappointing finish. Well, 6 of those 7 runners are back and they have been on fire this season and even finished within 14 points of Noblesville at the Semi-State. The thing they have over every other team in this tier is the combination of multiple front runners and really good depth. North Central is in a great spot when they return to LaVern Gibson on Saturday to right the wrongs that occurred a year ago and contend for a spot on the medal stand.

Outside Shot at the Podium/ Good Chance at a Top 10 Finish

Bloomington South - 24th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 7th (2009)

The Panthers have had their best season in more than a decade. Sectional and Regional champions, placing 2nd at the Semi-State, Bloomington South may be ready to take the next step on Saturday. Lily Myers has been the star for the Panthers but this year they have added some incredible depth as well. Twin freshmen Aurelia Martoglio and Jasmine Martoglio have been consistent scorers for the Panthers. South would need a stellar race from a fifth runner to really solidify their podium chances, but they should still be able to place into the top 10 and earn the team's first top 10 finish since 2009.

Concordia Lutheran - 15th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (1983)

Concordia comes into the state meet placing 6th at Semi-State but still has the fire power to make a run at a top 10 finish. Junior Lexi Panning was 21st last year at the state meet and they've added 3 solid freshmen to help the scoring. The fastest of the newcomers, Sarah Maple is also in a position to possibly finish all-state and that would certainly help the Cadets chances to place in the top 10.

Floyd Central - 28th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (4 times, most recently in 1992)

Floyd Central has been top 10 the last two seasons at the state meet and have another chance to do so this season. Junior Kaitlyn Stewart was all-state last year as a sophomore and is back to go for another medal. The depth for the Highlanders is not as deep as past seasons but they still have the numbers to make a run at a third consecutive top 10 finish. 

Penn - 22nd State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 3rd (2 times, most recently in 1995)

Penn placed a surprising 2nd at the New Haven Semi-State upsetting Hamilton Southeastern who we see as a podium contender. Penn will need to prove themselves once again and they have the lineup to do it. Mary Eubank is an all-state caliber athlete and gets them off to a good start. The pack of the Penn team will once again need to have a stellar race for them to have any shot at the podium but more likely a solid top 10 finish.

Valparaiso - 35th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (4 times, most recently in 2004)

The Vikings have just been winning everything this year. They were sectional, regional, and semi-state champions in New Prairie and come into the state meet with a lot of confidence. Cheyanne Stock placed 2nd at semi-state to one of the top 10 athletes in the state, and Stock could very well find herself in the top 25 at the end of the race Saturday. The Vikings top 10 chances hinge on their back three scorers running strong races, which they have done time and time again this season.

Zionsville - 9th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (2017)

The Eagles are back at the state meet after a one year hiatus. Zionsville landed on the podium the previous 6 seasons before missing the state meet last year. Well, the Eagles are back with a potential top 10 team. Zionsville doesn't have a true front runner but may have the best pack of the teams here that are fighting for top 10 spots. Look for the Eagles to run with a chip on their shoulder after missing state last season.

Outside Shot at a Top 10 Finish

Carroll - 20th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 1st (2 times, most recently in 2019)

Carroll placed 5th at the New Haven Semi-State and have qualified for the state meet for the 19th consecutive year. They have been a historically great team and this year still have a chance at a top 10 finish. They would need a great team race and the fifth runner to have the race of their life but the Chargers have obviously run very well at the state meet in their history.

East Central - 1st State Meet Appearance

East Central has qualified for the first state meet in their teams history. They are led by freshmen Callie Bentley who has a legit shot at being all-state on Saturday. This team could definitely surprise people just as they did at the semi-state placing sixth and grabbing the last qualifying spot. Always great to see a team qualify for the state meet for the first time especially in their area.

East Noble - 6th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 4th (1994)

Another team with a strong candidate for an all-state finish. Addison Lindsey has been stellar this year as a sophomore and is the best in this class. After her 3rd place finish at the New Haven Semi-State, Lindsey will be trying to prove that she is indeed one of the top athletes in the state and help give her team a low stick at the number one spot.

Guerin Catholic - 2nd State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 14th (2016)

The Golden Eagles are another surprise team making the state meet after their fourth place finish at the Shelbyville Semi-State. A well coached group with an all-state talent in Bridget Gallagher, the largest obstacle for Guerin Catholic was geography and they navigated the regional and semi-state quite wonderfully. They have an outside shot at a top 10 finish but could get there with another solid race from their remaining scorers as the Golden Eagles make their second state meet appearance ever.

Northview - 5th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 14th (2021)

Northview has been a consistent team over the last few years and their current group has many of the core members that have helped make the state meet each of the last 3 seasons. Gnister Grant was 25th at the state meet last year, and her along with Ellia Hayes and Halle Miller form a great trio to get the Knights off on the right foot. Northview has placed 14th each of the last two seasons and will hope to better that finish when they step on the line Saturday at LaVern Gibson.

Princeton - 2nd State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 21st (2021)

Coming out of the Brown County Semi-State, the Tigers are making their second straight state meet appearance and the second in their entire history after getting there for the first time last season. Haley and Heidi Meade are the leaders of this Princeton team and they've also added freshmen Mallory Watt for some extra depth. They will certainly be looking to improve on their 21st place team finish from a year ago.

Remaining Team Qualifiers - (Listed Alphabetically)

Corydon Central - 1st State Meet Appearance

Corydon Central is making their first ever state meet appearance after grabbing the sixth spot at the Brown County Semi-State. They will be happy to be at LaVern Gibson and get the state meet experience. A great feat for a school of their size.

Crown Point - 16th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 3rd (1997)

The Bulldogs grabbed the final qualifying spot from the New Prairie Semi-State. They are making their first state meet appearance since 2018. Crown Point will gain valuable experience here with their top 3 all returning for next season.

Lake Central - 16th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 2nd (2 times, most recently in 2008)

The Indians are another team with no seniors in their scoring five and may be a year away but being at the state meet this year will be a great achievement for Lake CentralAfter placing 5th at the Semi-state they are back at state for the 3rd time in the last four seasons.

Maconaquah - 6th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 6th (1985)

Abby Jordan has been a really solid runner this year to lead Maconaquah. Once again, another team without a senior in the top 7, they may be a year away. They are making their first state meet appearance  since 1988 and this is a great year for this squad to gain experience, and being in the Northwest part of the state, another state meet appearance could be on the docket in the near future. 

Morgan Township - 1st State Meet Appearance

Another team making their first state meet appearance, Morgan Township placed 2nd in the New Prairie Semi-State to advance to the state meet. They are led by a freshmen, Peyton Bucher and the rest of the varsity squad is young this could be a great year to surprise teams and gain experience for another team with no seniors in the top 7.

Warsaw - 11th State Meet Appearance, Best Finish - 11th (2011)

Warsaw placed 3rd in the New Prairie Semi-State. They have an all-state caliber athlete in Josefina Rastrelli leading them and gives the Tigers a low stick at the top. Rastrelli was 45th last season as a sophomore and will have a great chance to improve on that finish this year.