Recapping the 43rd Annual Girls State Championship

This year 10 girls went under 18 minutes for the first time in the 43 year history of the girls state meet. 60 girls also saw a time under 19 minutes on Saturday at Lavern Gibson.

Girls Individual Race

The girls race started off with
North Central's Maddie Rocchio taking the lead first before Libby Dowty from Indian Creek passing on the downhill portion leading up to the first kilometer. Libby would lead the girls race into the first kilometer running a 3:11. Julia Score from Bishop Chatard, Nicki Southerland from Delta, Alice Friesen from Huntington North, and Josefina Rastrelli from Warsaw rounded out the top 5 with several other girls less than 1 second behind.

By the time the girls hit the mile at 5:22
Jessica Hegedus from Avon worked her way up to the leaders running in 3rd place behind Libby and Julia. At the 2K Libby would hold her lead going through at 6:47. As the girls reached the halfway point there appeared to be some separation occurring with Libby Dowty, Julia Score, Nicki Southerland, and Addison Knoblauch from Homestead all running together with Josefina Rastrelli and Jessica Hegedus a few meters back ahead of the chase pack.

This immediate chase pack consisted of
Franklin Central's Kylie Cline, Valparaiso's Whitney Anderson, Seeger's Hadessah Austin, Northwestern's Hannah Moore, Lexi Panning and Mallory Weller from Concordia, Floyd Central's Kaitlyn Stewart, Hamilton Southeastern's Elizabeth Butler, and North Central's Maddie RocchioThe lead pack of 4 would go through the 2 mile in a single file line in 11:05, gapping the rest of the field by about 10 seconds. Just after this point Libby looked to extend her lead while Nicki would make a move to pass Addison and Julia and position herself in second.

At the 4K the lead pack dwindled down to just Libby, Nicki, and Julia. As the girls came through tent city and reached 400m left in the race Nicki would take the lead and begin to gap Libby by a few meters. She would continue to lead as they hit 3 mile mark with 200m to go. 
At this point Libby Dowty found another gear as you could see the grit on her face closing the last 30 seconds. Libby would give everything she had and cross the line first in a new PR and state meet record time of 17:06.7. The previous record was set in 2014 by Mishawaka legend and Notre Dame standout Anna Rohrer. After placing 15th as a freshman and winning this year Libby proves to be someone to look out for the next couple of years. 

Nicki Southerland also ran a great race waiting until the end to make her move, it just was not enough to bury Libby. She appeared to have gone lactic and was still able to run her best time in her 4 years of running state with a 17:15. Nicki wraps up an incredible IHSAA cross country career where she was a 3 time cross country state-runner up after placing 9th her freshman year. She also currently holds the 5th and 6th fastest 5K times in state meet history. Julia Score was able to hold on comfortably to finish 3rd at 17:23.7 and improve upon her 10th place finish last year at state. She ran her second best time of the season and was with the leaders for a majority of the race. Addison Knoblauch was 4th hanging tough with the leaders for about 75% of the race to wrap up her IHSAA XC career with her best state meet after finishing 8th last year and 5th her sophomore year. She had an interesting path through the tournament going 3rd, 4th, 4th in each race. 

Whitney Anderson from Valparaiso had an incredible day as a freshman finishing 5th with a new lifetime best of 17:46.1. Her progression will be one to look out for in track season and into next cross country season. Huntington North's Alice Friesen is also another freshman to look out for as she was the second fastest freshman this year running a 18:07.3 at state to finish 13th.

A few other highlights include:
- Franklin Central's Kylie Cline having a huge race placing 9th after not qualifying last year.
- Concordia's duo placed 6-7 after Mallory Weller did not have a result and Lexi Panning finishing 20th last year.
- Floyd Central's Kaitlyn Stewart improving 19 spots from last year to place 8th overall
- Elizabeth Butler from Hamilton Southeastern, Ellia Hayes from Northview, and Sadie Foley from Carmel, Elizabeth Rocchio from North Central, and Elizabeth Ehrhardt from Valparaiso all finishing all-state after finishing 99th, 83rd, 62nd, 46th, and 59th last year.
- Sophie Wray from Plymouth, Hadessah Austin from Seeger, and Nola Somers Glenn from Bloomington North earning all-state after not racing state last year

Team Race

The girls team race was an exciting one as Homestead just narrowly defeated Concordia for their first girls state cross country title in school history. The team was coming off their best season last year with a 4th place finish and had Addison Knoblauch leading the way scoring 1 point with her 4th place finish. The team looked to be evenly matched runner for runner with Concordia with the team having an advantage with Caterina Perego being the stronger #4 runner. With only 2 seniors in the lineup and a couple freshmen running well Homestead looks to be a team to contend for more titles in the future.

Concordia returned to the podium for the first time in over 10 years to have the second best season in program history. Their season this year was second only to the 1983 team that won the 3rd Girls State Championship. Mallory Weller and Lexi Panning led the way with all-state performances finishing 6th and 7th respectively. Concordia also graduates two seniors which will be interesting to see how these two teams match up for next season.

One of the most surprising team results of the day came from
Valparaiso. Valpo had a huge team performance in a race where their entire lineup had lifetime bests. This helped the team to a 3rd place finish which is the 4th best in team history. This also makes it so the team has finished in every spot on the podium in its history. Whitney Anderson was instrumental in the team's success by scoring 2 points with a 5th place finish as a freshman. Elizabeth Ehrhardt was also all-state for the team with a 25th place finish.
Whitney Anderson - 35 second PR
Elizabeth Ehrhardt - 33 second PR
Liv Hatch - 5 second PR
Anika Anderson - 29 second PR
Angela Coulopoulos - 24 second PR
Ena Gilliana - 19 second PR
Meredith Isley - 5 second PR

North Central came in 4th with Valpo narrowly edging them out by 6 points. The team was led by all-state performances from Maddie and Elizabeth Rocchio with each finishing one second apart from each other. This ties for the 2nd best finish at state for the team and is an improvement from last year's result where the team finished 5th. This is another team that will be losing two seniors next season.

Franklin Central returns to the podium for the first time since 2012. The team needed every last point as Hamilton Southeastern was only one one point behind in 6th. All of the matchups between these two teams were important with Camryn Simons sealing the deal for the Flashes by finishing 1 second ahead of HSE's 5th runner. Kylie Cline was the team's frontrunner with a 9th place finish to score 5 points and also finish ahead of HSE's top runner. Kylie is the only girl in the team's scoring 5 set to graduate this year.

Hamilton Southeastern narrowly missed the podium by one point. The team had a better matchup with Elizabeth Butler as their #2 runner and were close with the other matchups mentioned above. Maggie Powers also had an all-state performance improving upon her 16th place finish from state last year. Like Franklin Central the Royals also lose one of their front runners to graduation next year with Maggie.

Carmel has had a down this year despite almost making the podium. This is the first time the Carmel girls were not on the podium since the state championship at LaVern Gibson with their last podium absence coming 20 years ago from the 2003 season where they finished 8th. Sadie Foley had a large improvement from last season helping lead the team with an 18th place all-state performance.

Noblesville, the defending cross country state champions, appeared to have an off day and were still able to tie for the 6th best state performance in school history with it being the 11th time the Millers have been top 10 as a team at state. Summer Rempe led the team with Ansley Applegate also under 19 minutes. The team graduates 3 seniors and have shown promise with their underclassmen for next season.