With strong performances at Saturday’s Carmel Semistate, three local runners have qualified for the IHSAA Boys and Girls Cross Country State Finals at Terre Haute’s LaVern Gibson Championship Course.
Greenwood Christian Academy junior Allie Dalton will be joined by Center Grove junior Valerie Clark in the girls race. In the boys race, it’ll be Greenwood senior Hunter Smith contending on Saturday.
Carmel, ranked No. 1 in boys and girls, won both team races at the semistate.
Dalton, last year’s semistate winner, stayed with the lead pack throughout most of the race but finished well off her normal pace, placing 13th.
Dalton had a winning time of 18:02 a week ago at the Shelbyville Regional.
Her time on Saturday was 18:59.
“Maybe I went out a little too fast, and from there I felt a little sick to my stomach, so I didn’t finish as well as I wanted,” Dalton said. “But this still is my favorite course to run against such great competition.
“But the goal remains (contending at) state.”
Dalton, a transfer student from Greenwood Community High School, is the first Greenwood Christian athlete to reach a state finals event.
“It’s big for our school and our program, and we’re proud of her and what she brings to us,” Cougars coach Joe Slater said.
Clark, meanwhile, placed 27th among the 174 runners. Her dart to the finish line not only earned a spot in the state finals, it took Center Grove Wes Dodson by surprise.
“At about the 4,200-meter mark, I honestly didn’t think she could make up the difference to be the 10th individual qualifier because those other girls were pretty far in front,” he said. “She really gutted it out in that last K like a champ to get into the state finals, and I could not be happier for her.”
Carmel junior Sarah Leinheiser had a winning time of 17:22.3, setting a new course record in leading the top-ranked Greyhounds to first place finish.
Carmel was followed in the team standings by state qualifiers Cathedral, Zionsville, Noblesville, Fishers and Hamilton Southeastern. Center Grove was two spots out of the running, placing eighth.
Individual semistate qualifiers were Whiteland junior Kaley Brewer, who finished 53rd, and Franklin senior Zosia Piotrowski, who placed 77th.
In the boys race, defending semistate champion and senior Ben Veatch had a winning time of 14:58.1, nearly 19 seconds ahead of runner-up junior Curtis Eckstein of Oldenburg Academy.
Joining Carmel at state will be Fishers, Westfield, Hamilton Southeastern, Avon and Brebeuf.
With his 23rd-place finish, Greenwood’s Hunter Smith qualified for state while the Woodmen team finished 11th overall.
“I’m really lucky to have competed here and be able to move on,” Smith said. “I feel confident about next week.”
Meanwhile, Franklin, a sectional and regional winner this year, placed 10th. Center Grove was 15th.
The top Grizzly Cubs runners were senior Peter Hostetter and freshman Andrew Bixler, who were 50th and 56th, respectively.
Franklin coach Adam Schwartz had nothing but praise for the team’s hard work this season.
“You come up here to do your best and there are just so many good teams competing for those six team spots in the state,” Schwartz said. “Unfortunately, we were on the short end of the stick today. All season long, we’ve been up against the state’s top competition.
“We’ll have five guys returning to our starting lineup next year. We saw some amazing growth from our underclassmen and we hope it continues.”
The top finisher for Center Grove was freshman John J.T. Hodges, who was 83rd overall. Greenwood Christian Academy senior Hunter Slater finished 127th.
Brown County Semistate
Two Indian Creek cross-country runners concluded their seasons at Saturday’s Brown County Semistate.
Senior Tucker Dawson finished 94th in the boys race in 17 minutes, 31.0 seconds for 5,000 meters (3.1 miles). Northview’s Cam Trout won in 15:25.2.
Braves junior Isabel Dawson took 119th in the girls race in 22:00.0. Bloomington North’s Grace Williams won in 18:12.1.
Columbus North swept the boys and girls team titles.