Nearly making finals drives Franklin runner

Josh Campbell can’t help but look back on the best race of his life with mixed emotions.

His 2016 cross-country season concluded at the Shelbyville Semistate with a personal-best time of 15 minutes, 48.7 seconds — or 1.5 seconds from advancing to the state meet.

The Franklin senior has had nine months to think about it.

“Every day,” he said. “It comes back to haunt you, but you have to push yourself that much harder. My main goal this season is to get to state and finish in the top 15.”

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Campbell, whose semistate time is 19.7 seconds off the school record established by Ryan Warrenburg at the Edinburgh Sectional in 2001, is the youngest of five children.

His oldest brother, Jared, was the No. 5 runner as a sophomore for the 2001 state championship squad. Jacob Campbell ran fourth for the Grizzly Cubs, who placed fifth at the 2007 state meet.

Older sisters Jessica and Jaclyn also competed for Franklin’s girls cross-country program. Since 2000, there have been only two seasons in which a Campbell wasn’t on at least one of the varsity cross country rosters.

Individually, the trajectory of Josh’s cross-country career is every bit as impressive as those of his siblings. In Campbell’s first three seasons at Franklin, he’s finished no worse than eighth at sectional.

“Josh is very, very patient in races. He can grind people down in the middle of a race,” Franklin coach Adam Schwartz said. “He’s certainly increased his top-end speed, and we’ve worked to improve his cardiovascular system and oxygen intake.”

After last season, Campbell began incorporating cycling into his workouts. This entailed riding a stationary bike indoors during the cold-weather months and cycling on country roads once temperatures began rising in the spring.

“It’s to add miles to your legs,” Campbell said. “It’s not the same as running, but it helped loosen up my legs instead of pounding them on the concrete all winter.”

Franklin opens its season Aug. 14 at the Blue River Park Invitational hosted by Triton Central.

Scouting Johnson County's cross country teams

GIRLS

Center Grove Trojans

Coach: Wes Dodson

Last year: Placed second at Franklin Sectional; won Shelbyville Regional; seventh at Shelbyville Semistate

Who’s back: Nicole Kissler and Tori Martin, seniors; Stephanie Embree and Nina Fujii, juniors; Gabby Ellis, Julia Falcone, Gabrielle Harrell and Marielle Harrell, sophomores

Who’s gone: Rachel Chan and Val Clark

Outlook: Falcone and Martin should lead the way after placing ninth and 11th, respectively, at sectional. Gabrielle Harrell also is back after finishing 13th at sectional. “We did lose our two great runners and leaders, but we return five girls that all ran varsity at some point last year,” Dodson said. “The returning girls have all improved, and we are excited to see what we can do. It should be a fun and exciting season.”

Edinburgh Lancers

Coach: Ashley Myers

Last year: 11th at Brown County Sectional

Who’s back: Emily Davis, senior; Lili Ervin and Destiney Ramey, sophomores

Who’s gone: Blythe Carman, Allie Schooler and Bailey Woodall

New kids on the block: McKensie Adair, Haven Link and Jillian Turner, freshmen

Outlook: Small in numbers, the Lancers are led by their lone senior, Davis, who placed 59th at sectional last season. “My expectation is for our runners to come out every day looking to improve,” Myers said. “Hopefully we can make a dent at some of the smaller meets and build the program for years to come.”

Franklin Grizzly Cubs

Coach: Ray Lane

Last year: Third at Franklin Sectional; fifth at Shelbyville Regional

Who’s back: Emma Beavins and Emma Treibic, senior; Abby Burton, Caroline Riessen and Chloe Selking, juniors; Piper Reed, sophomore

Who’s gone: Carly Sandrock

New kid on the block: Lilly Lacy

Outlook: Treibic and Selking, top-20 finishers at sectional in 2016, are back to lead the Grizzly Cubs. “We had a strong end to last year, and we’re bringing a lot of those people back,” Lane said. “All the teams are so competitive in this area that you have to take it one meet at a time. Hopefully by the state tournament we’re performing as well as we can.”

Greenwood Woodmen

Coach: Blaine Williams

Last year: Ninth at Franklin Sectional

Who’s back: Hannah Henderson, Janae Johnson and Lauren Spencer, juniors; Julia Arruda, Alexa Ashmore, Mallory Watson and Riley Weber, sophomores

Who’s gone: None

New kids on the block: Addy Brooks, Jasmine Cox, Ava Leininger and Abby Walls, freshmen

Outlook: Led by Watson, a 22nd-place finisher at sectional last year, and Arruda (25th), the Woodmen anticipate improvement. “Just out of sheer numbers we’re going to be better,” said Williams, who has 15 runners compared to seven a year ago. “Those top seven spots are going to be up for grabs.”

Greenwood Christian Cougars

Coach: Sean Branch

Last year: Seventh at Franklin Sectional

Who’s back: Anna Simons, senior; Anna Subris, junior

Who’s gone: Allie Dalton

New kid on the block: Allison Patterson, freshman

Outlook: First-year coach Branch has three runners on his roster and looks forward to watching them attempt to lower their times as the season progresses. “Our goal right now is to work with the girls we have with the goal of being as much of a team as possible by helping each other with individual goals,” he said.

Indian Creek Braves

Coach: Steve Fleenor

Last year: Seventh at Brown County Sectional

Who’s back: Bridget Dwyer, senior; Shaelyn Biddle, Stevye Gonzales and Marissa Smith, juniors; Sierra Bowman, sophomore

Who’s gone: Isabel Dawson

New kids on the block: Morgan Timmons, senior; Olivia Atwood, Emily Gault, Kiana Skobel and Luci Woodrum, freshmen

Outlook: Bowman and Smith return after finishing 40th and 41st, respectively, at sectional. Five newcomers, five of whom are freshmen, add depth to the Braves’ lineup.

Whiteland Warriors

Coach: Michele Batt

Last year: Fourth at Franklin Sectional; sixth at Shelbyville Regional

Who’s back: Katie Dennis, senior; Kelsey Ross, junior; Taylor Leytham and Erika Walling, sophomores

Who’s gone: Kaley Brewer

New kids on the block: Skylar Halvorson, sophomore; Claire Overfelt, freshman

Outlook: Ross returns after a 14th-place effort at sectional a year ago. She along with Dennis, Leytham and Walling form a strong nucleus for the Warriors. “I’m looking forward to a good season,” Batt said. “We are a young team, but have some great leadership to help show them the ropes.”

BOYS

Center Grove Trojans

Coach: Howard Harrell

Last year: Won Franklin Sectional and Shelbyville Regional; 12th at Shelbyville Semistate

Who’s back: Nick Ellis, Christopher Jones, Steven Mills and Connor Walsh, seniors; Sebastian Martin and Ethan Stanley, juniors

Who’s gone: J.T. Hodges, Nolan Miller, Adam Russell

New kids on the block: Dillon Gardner, junior; Archit Malik and Nick Wilson, sophomores

Outlook: With so many runners of similar experience and skill on his roster, Harrell looks to have one of his most balanced teams. “In years past we’ve always had a lead runner,” he said. “Our strongest link is with the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 runners, which is where we’ll make up ground on people. There’s a lot of friendly competition at practice. They’re pushing themselves and each other, and that’s neat to see.”

Edinburgh Lancers

Coach: Ashley Myers

Last year: No postseason team scores

Who’s back: Isaiah Estes, sophomore

Who’s gone: None

New kids on the block: None

Outlook: Estes, for now, is a team of one, though his coach believes the sophomore has a promising future. “Isaiah definitely has made improvement,” Myers said. “He knows what my expectations are of him, and I would definitely like to see him place at our conference meet.”

Franklin Grizzly Cubs

Coach: Adam Schwartz

Last year: Third at Franklin Sectional; second at Shelbyville Regional; ninth at Shelbyville Semistate

Who’s back: Josh Campbell and Caleb McCort, seniors; Andrew Bixler and Isaiah Lindsay, juniors; Wyatt McCullough and Will Tucker, sophomores

Who’s gone: Chandler McGaha and Tomy Sundheimer

New kids on the block: Anthony McDonald and William McLaughlin, freshmen

Outlook: Campbell should be one of the county’s elite runners, if not the best. He’s part of a veteran cast that hopes to enjoy a deep postseason run. “Obviously, we’re looking to build on our success last year,” Schwartz said. “We need to continue to build on our training from the summer.”

Greenwood Woodmen

Coach: Blaine Williams

Last year: Fifth at Franklin Sectional; fourth at Shelbyville Regional; 16th at Shelbyville Semistate

Who’s back: Brandon Albin, Justin Johnson, Ethan Pine, Ian Rimer and Conner Terhune, seniors; Josh Alfrey and Hunter Walden, juniors; Keith Alford, sophomore

Who’s gone: Lucas Oskins

New kids on the block: Chris Ashmore and Jalen Roth, seniors; Zach McCauley, junior; Eli McCauley, Noah McCracken and Tyler Scott, freshmen

Outlook: The Woodmen return six of seven runners from a program looking to take that next step after three consecutive semistate appearances. Pine placed 12th at sectional last season, while Rimer and Albin were 21st and 22nd, respectively. “I’m really anxious to see with this big senior class with all this varsity experience how they respond and finish their careers,” Williams said.

Greenwood Christian Academy Cougars

Coach: Sean Branch

Last year: Seventh at Franklin Sectional

Who’s back: Zane Stout, junior

Who’s gone: Grant Slater

New kid on the block: Devin Patterson, sophomore; Drew Graves, freshman

Outlook: Stout, a 68th-place finisher at the Franklin Sectional, leads the Cougars this season. “We want to work on our individual bests and try to get at least one of our runners out of sectional,” Branch said.

Indian Creek Braves

Coach: Steve Fleenor

Last year: Eighth at Brown County Sectional

Who’s back: Nate Decker and Jace Russell, juniors; Hunter Ellis and Mitchell Ellis, sophomores

Who’s gone: Sean Bowman and Aidan Marlow

New kids on the block: Jackson Fenton and Jack Mitchell, freshmen

Outlook: Decker, who made it to regional and placed 56th, is back to lead a program devoid of seniors. Russell and both Hunter and Mitchell Ellis also were among the team’s top seven in 2016.

Whiteland Warriors

Coach: Gary Emerson

Last year: Sixth at Franklin Sectional

Who’s back: George Dusold, Bailey McMahon, David Ryan and Garrett Seawright, seniors; Mika Long, Riley McMahon and Eric Williams, juniors

Who’s gone: Jacob Fendley

New kids on the block: David Fox and Will Jefferson, freshmen

Outlook: Long took 16th at sectional last season, while Bailey McMahon took 26th. “We should have a solid year. We’ve got most the guys back and a pretty good freshman coming in,” Emerson said. “We would like to be in the top three in the county and conference meets, and in the top five at sectional.”

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.