A change of venue failed to faze Val Clark, who qualified for a second consecutive State Finals in girls cross country Saturday afternoon.
Clark, a Center Grove senior, crossed the finish line 15th at the Shelbyville Semistate to advance as an individual in a time of 18:35.1.
“The main thing for me was to just focus on time the first half of the race,” said Clark, whose team in previous season took part in the Carmel Semistate. “I always want to start out with the front pack because that’s how I run best. I run best running out fast.
“But there’s always someone in front of you. Always one more person in front of you to chase after.”
Clark’s teammates came close to joining her this weekend.
By placing seventh in the standings, the Trojans narrowly missed sending the entire team to Terre Haute for the first time since 2011.
“I knew that it was going to be really tough to get out, but we gave everything we had,” Center Grove coach Wes Dodson said. “Six of our seven girls got their best time ever. We competed with the very best, and what I’m so proud of is that we didn’t back down at all.”
Sophomore Nina Fujii finished 51st in 19:30.3 for the Trojans. Center Grove’s other runners were Rachel Chan (59th), Victoria Martin (61st), Maddie Keeley (72nd) and freshmen Julia Falcone (86th) and Gabrielle Harrell (100th).
Overall, the race had 179 runners.
Greenwood Christian Academy senior Allie Dalton, a State Finals participant the past three seasons, fell short of a fourth. Dalton saw her high school cross country career come to a close with a 46th-place effort in a time of 19:23.0.
Kaley Brewer, a Whiteland senior who also qualified as an individual, ran a 19:46.9 for 66th-place. Her Warriors teammate, sophomore Kelsey Ross, placed 113th in 20:37.5.
Meanwhile, Franklin Community finished 17th among the 20 programs qualified. The Grizzly Cubs were led by Emma Treibic (97th), Alexandra Boardman (110th), Abby Burton (131st) and Chloe Selking (138th).
Treibic is a junior. The others are all sophomores.
“We were realistically looking at the top 15 (as a team) if we ran really well,” Franklin coach Ray Lane said. “We knew it was going to be tough after coming in fifth last week (at regional). There’s a really big uphill battle.
“But we wanted to show up and not just happy to be here. That’s why I was so happy with how we ran. To be able to run our best team race of the year, that’s a really good way to end.”
At the Brown County Semistate, Indian Creek girls runner Isabell Dawson came in 74th of 177 competitors. Dawson, a senior, ran a time of 20:43.5.
In the boys race, Franklin junior Josh Campbell just missed making it to state as an individual. His 22nd-place performance overall in 15:48.7 made Campbell the 11th-fastest competitor from a non-qualifying team.
Unfortunately, only the top 10 make it to state.
The Grizzly Cubs would go on to finish ninth in the team standings, followed by Center Grove in 12th and Greenwood in 16th.
Individually, top performers included Center Grove senior Adam Russell (51st) and sophomore J.T. Hodges (63rd), Greenwood junior Ethan Pine (69th), Franklin’s Chandler McGaha (78th) and Isaiah Lindsay (88th) and Center Grove’s Ethan Stanley (90th).
Also in the top 100 were Greenwood senior Lucas Oskins (94th) and Franklin’s Andrew Bixler (100th).
“We wanted to be our best late in the season,” Franklin coach Adam Schwartz said. “We’re happy with how we did. Josh ran phenomenal. He broke 16 minutes for the first time in his life, but, really, all the guys ran really well.”